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Index up for fourth consecutive week

The Malta Stock Exchange gained further ground unenthusiastically having posted a 0.38 per cent gain. Negative sentiment towards nearly all financial equities weighted down on the index performance, but gains from another four companies were enough to hold the index in positive territory. This week's gain was backed by a considerable increase in trading activity in the equity market, however, investors' attention towards the fixed income markets remained strong with particular attention on the Malta government stocks market, which saw turnover reaching €7.6 million. Throughout the week, out of the 12 traded equities, four gained, six closed lower, and two ended the week unchanged.

The total amount of deals recorded across all traded securities increased to 606 transactions as turnover reached €10.5 million. In the equity market, 145 transactions of 643,594 shares were executed for a total value of €881,749. In the government stocks market, over 7.1 million nominal was traded across 270 transactions for a total value of €7.6 million, up from €6.5 million traded the previous week. In the Corporate Bonds market turnover reached €2.02 million as 31 issues were traded. No trading took place in the Treasury Bills market.

Maltapost plc shares headed the list of gainers with a 5.88 per cent or €0.05 gain as a significant increase in trading volume was recorded. As opposed to last week, this gain was backed by a total of 28,579 shares dealt across six transactions. This was the equity's second consecutive week-on-week gain, as the share price reached €0.90.

Similar to last week's performance, International Hotel Investments plc (IHI) posted a respectable gain, having ended the week 3.45 per cent or €0.03 higher. Liquidity in the equity surged to 407,310 shares dealt across 23 deals. The bulk of trading took place on Monday with 351,250 shares changing hands over 12 transactions. During this session the price went up by 2.3 per cent to €0.89, the price at which the equity closed the following two sessions. On Thursday, the equity gained further ground as it closed the week at €0.90.

Despite the negative weekly performance by local financial equities, HSBC Bank Malta plc shares closed the week in positive territory. Following two negative trading days in the opening three sessions, the equity moved higher on Thursday as the equity gained 1.28 per cent to end the week at €3. After close of trading yesterday, the bank announced that the board of directors approved the financial statements for the six-month period ended June 30, 2010. Profit before tax for the period reached €42.2 million, an increase of 21.4 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year. The board also declared the payment of an ordinary interim net dividend of €0.051 per share payable on August 24 to shareholders on the bank's register as at August 10.

Meanwhile, Bank of Valletta plc shares lost some of last week's gains as losses during the opening and closing sessions erased the gains recorded in the remaining three sessions. In fact, the equity finished 0.46 per cent lower as it closed the week at €3.255. A total of 41 deals were executed as trading volume increased to 56,908 shares.

Two deals in Lombard Bank plc saw the equity losing 2.75 per cent or €0.08, closing the week at €2.83, while FIMBank plc lost a meagre 0.5 per cent or $0.005 as four deals were executed at $1.

Likewise, Middlesea Insurance plc shares headed downwards by 0.43 per cent. The equity was active on three trading days, losing 0.09 and 0.78 per cent over insignificant trading volume during the first two sessions. Thursday's gain was not enough to put the equity back in positive territory closing at €1.145.

Malta International Airport plc shares maintained their positive momentum as the airport operator posted a weekly gain of 1.25 per cent. The equity's price moved to €1.62 over a considerable increase in trading volume which amounted to 66,687 shares. On Thursday, the board of directors of MIA approved the group's interim financial statements for the six months ended June 30. MIA recorded an after-tax profit of €3.5 million, an increase of 16.5 per cent compared to the same six-month period last year which was mainly attributed to a substantial increase in passenger numbers. The directors proposed the payment of a net interim dividend of €0.03 per share, payable on September 15 and held on MIA's register on August 9.

Crimsonwing plc was this week's worst performer having posted a 13 per cent loss to end the week at €0.40 as only one deal of 4,000 shares was executed. This drop in price resulted notwithstanding the announcement that the group managed to increase revenue during the financial year ending March 31 to €12.2 million, and reversed last year's loss of €570,700 to a profit before tax of €52,071.

Go plc lost 1.55 per cent as 5,300 shares were traded over five deals, closing the week at €1.90, gaining some ground during yesterday's session. Two thin trades in Simonds Farsons Cisk plc and Medserv plc left the equities' price unchanged at €1.80 and €4.20 respectively.

On Thursday, the Treasury announced the prices for the new fixed rate Malta Government Stock issues. The 3.75% MGS 2015 fungibility issue will be offered at €102.5 with a yield to maturity of 3.233 per cent. The price of the 5.25% MGS 2030 fungibility issue was set at €100. Applications open on Monday and close on Wednesday.

This article, which was compiled by Jesmond Mizzi, managing director of Jesmond Mizzi Financial Services Limited (JMFS), does not intend to give investment advice and the contents therein should not be construed as such. JMFS is licensed to conduct investment services by the MFSA. The directors or related parties, including the company, and their clients are likely to have an interest in securities mentioned in this article. For further information contact JMFS at 67/3, South Street, Valletta or on tel. 2122 4410 or e-mail [email protected].

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