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  • The MSE Share Index continued to drift lower with a further 0.1% drop during this morning’s session to 3,312.404 points due to the declines in the share prices of BOV, HSBC, FIMBank and RS2 Software. Meanwhile MIA jumped 5.6% higher. The remaining four active equities ended the session unchanged on low volumes. Download a copy of the Equity Market Summary.
  • On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index retreated by 0.1% to 1,010.728 points as Eurozone yields edged closer to the 1.5% level this morning as investors focused on equities reflecting a larger risk appetite as share indices around the globe reached new multi-year highs.
  • The share price of Bank of Valletta plc succumbed to further selling pressure as it slid lower for the third successive trading session. The share price lost a further 1.3% today to a fresh 5-week low of €2.23 across twelve trades totalling 21,944 shares. Over the past three days, the equity declined by 3%.
  • HSBC shares ended this morning’s session at the €2.749 representing a minimal decline from the previous close. Volumes were encouraging amounting to 35,000 shares despite turning ex-dividend as from today. The Bank is scheduled to hold its Annual General Meeting on 18 April 2013. Meanwhile, this morning HSBC announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, HSBC Life Assurance (Malta) Limited, has agreed to enter into a Portfolio Transfer Agreement with HSBC Life (Europe) Limited to acquire the insurance policy book for nil consideration. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013 subject to regulatory approvals and the announcement revealed that the whole portfolio being transferred generated around €2.75 million in gross annual management charges during 2012.
  • Also in the financial sector, FIMBank edged 0.5% lower to US$1.015 across two trades amounting to 25,000 shares. The equity is still trading with the entitlement to the final net dividend of US$0.0369 per share.
  • RS2 Software also performed negatively with the share price easing by 0.6% to €0.905 on volumes of 71,667 shares.
  • On the other hand, the share price of MIA jumped 5.6% to a new all-time high of €1.90 although this increase only took place on volumes of only 200 shares after a further 1,350 shares were exchanged at the €1.811 level earlier today. In a recent interview with the CEO Markus Klaushofer, it was revealed that MIA is considering investing in a second office block (following the recent successful launch of Sky Parks) whilst maintaining focus on increasing seat capacity to and from Malta. In this respect, several airlines have recently announced new routes or increased frequency including the recent announcement by Air Malta that it will be increasing its capacity on its flights to three cities in Russia.
  • Plaza Centres as 1,350 shares changed hands at the €0.58 level on a single trade following yesterday’s results announcement which revealed a marginal dip in net profit to €0.82 million reflecting the lower average occupancy after a sizeable office space was vacated. Occupancy is expected to recover as from the second quarter of 2013. Plaza shares will trade with the entitlement to the net dividend of €0.0247 per share until 26 April.
  • Shortly after the close of today’s trading session, Lombard Bank published its 2012 preliminary results. The figures showed a 16.7% drop in pre-tax profits to €9.4 million reflecting the €2 million gain from disposal of investments in 2011 which was not repeated in 2012. The lower profitability is also due to the impact from the weaker performance of the Group’s postal subsidiary (MaltaPost plc) given the changes in the cross-border tariffs imposed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). Nonetheless, the Directors’ view of a more positive outlook led to the declaration of a higher gross final dividend of €0.12 per share representing a 4% increase over the previous year’s dividend. Shareholders as at the close of trading on 20 March 2013 will be entitled to this dividend. Moreover, the Directors also recommended a 1 for 10 bonus share issue to all shareholders as at close of trading on 22 May 2013. Both the dividend and bonus issue are subject to shareholder approval at the upcoming Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on 25 April 2013.

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