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  • The MSE Share Index moved back into negative territory during this morning’s session as most of the active equities closed lower. The local equity benchmark shed 0.3% to a fresh 6-week low of 3,659.387 points. Download a copy of the Equity Market Summary.
  • On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index edged 0.1% higher to 1,026.477 points as the benchmark 10-year Eurozone yields slipped to the 1.652% level following weak demand for a German Bund auction for the second consecutive time. Demand for last week’s 10-year auction and today’s 30-year paper were below the maximum target. Moreover, investors are also expecting further easing from the European Central Bank (ECB) during next week’s monetary policy meeting to combat falling inflation and rising unemployment.
  • The equity of HSBC gave back some of yesterday’s gains with a 1.2% drop back to the €2.56 level on volumes of 15,254 shares. On Monday, the HSBC Malta Group published its 2013 financial statements revealing a 5.1% drop in pre-tax profits to €90.5 million largely due to the continued pressure on interest margin as well as lower investment returns from the life assurance subsidiary. These were only partially offset by lower costs and impairments. The final gross dividend was lowered by 34.2% to €0.052 per share following the decline in profits as well as amendments to the MFSA Banking Rule 09 which requires banks to create a reserve against non-performing loans from the declared dividend distribution. Shareholders as at close of trading on 12 March will be eligible for the final dividend. The Directors also recommended a 1 for 9 bonus issue to all shareholders as at the close of trading on 24 April 2014. 
  • GO eased another 0.4% lower to €2.10 across 12,490 shares. Similarly, the share price of RS2 Software plc retreated by 0.6% to €2.35 despite the recent announcement revealing a new indefinite licence with OKQ8 – an owner and operator of around 700 petrol stations in Sweden with annual revenues of over €2 billion. A total of 8,400 Rs2 shares changed hands today.
  • Island Hotels Group dropped 3.2% to the €0.90 level on low volumes of 2,100 shares. Last Friday, Island Hotels revealed a turnaround in performance with pre-tax profits of €0.45 million during the year ended 31 October 2013. The improvement was largely due to higher occupancy at the three hotels as well as increased operational efficiency both in its hotels and vacation ownership business. Last week Island Hotels also announced that it entered into a promise of sale for the Coastline Hotel for €14 million and that it was awarded the exclusive right to develop the Costa Coffee brand in Spain (East Coast), Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. Apart from seeking fresh equity capital, Island Hotels also indicated that it is also planning the issuance of a new bond on the local market.
  • The only other negative performing equity was Malita Investments with a 0.7% decline to €0.541 on just 4,000 shares. The Company is shortly expected to publish its 2013 full-year results.
  • On the other hand, MaltaPost inched marginally higher to €1.12 on a single deal of 3,000 shares.
  • Meanwhile, BOV held on to the €2.40 level across thirteen trades totalling 32,991 shares.

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