Further gains for local equities on improved sentiment

Sentiment across the local equity market remained positive during this morning’s session of the MSE as various equities, including the two large banks, continued to trend higher. This support helped the MSE Share Index edge a further 1.1% higher to a new 21-month high of 3,339.199 points.

In the financial sector, HSBC Bank Malta plc’s share price edged 1.8% higher to regain the €2.79 level across 13,430 shares after the Bank revealed an 8% increase in pre-tax profits during 2012. The improvement in performance mainly reflects an increase in the profitability of the Group’s life assurance business following an uplift in the values of the investments held as well as a number of cost savings in line with the Bank’s on-going restructuring. The Directors recommended a final gross dividend of €0.079 per share to all shareholders as at close of trading on 13 March.

Bank of Valletta plc shares also advanced by 0.9% to close just below the €2.30 level across seven trades totalling 16,208 shares. New bids also emerged for the shares of Middlesea Insurance plc which are still trading with the entitlement to the final gross dividend of €0.025. The fresh demand lifted the share price 13.9% higher to the €0.90 level for the first time since mid-December 2011. A total of 13,700 Middlesea shares changed hands today.

Gains were also registered by MIDI plc and Plaza Centres plc. Following last week’s 11% jump, MIDI shares edged a further 3.3% higher today to close at the €0.31 level on sustained high volumes of 200,000 shares. Plaza’s share price inched 0.7% higher to close at the €0.589 level on a single deal of 1,400 shares.

Similarly, RS2 Software plc moved 1.1% higher to capture a new all-time high of €0.91 across four trades totalling 12,533 shares.

Meanwhile, no change was registered in the share price of FIMBank plc with 50,000 shares changing hands at the US$1.00 level ahead of the results on Wednesday. Similarly, Lombard Bank Malta plc held on to the €1.89 level on volumes of 25,000 shares and its postal subsidiary, MaltaPost plc maintained the €1.05 level across a single trade of 21,571 shares.

On the other hand, Malta International Airport plc lost 1.4% as it slipped back to the €1.785 level on volumes of 55,100 shares ahead of the Company’s full-year results publication on 20 March. Meanwhile, the airport operator issued its February traffic results showing a 4.2% rise in passengers.

Similar declines were registered in GO plc and Malita Investments plc. GO’s share price eased 0.4% lower on weak volumes of 4,000 shares and Malita dropped 3.8% back to the €0.51 level on activity of just 1,000 shares. Malita shares continue to trade with the entitlement to the maiden dividend of €0.024 per share until Friday 8 March.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index registered its third consecutive increase to yet another 1-month high of 1,011.324 points as the benchmark 10-year Eurozone yield declined further to reach the 1.4% level. Safe-haven assets, such as the German bund, remain in focus as investors are concerned over the uncertainty in the Eurozone after the inconclusive outcome of Italy’s general election.

Last Friday the Treasury announced that it received a total 4,912 applications for the two new Malta Government Stocks for a value exceeding €292.9 million (nominal). The applications from retail investors, amounting to €123.87 million, were allotted in full. A further €75.7 million were allotted to institutional investors to make up the total amount issued of €199.6 million.




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