HSBC share price drops to a 3-month low

Investor sentiment across the local equity and bond market remained subdued as the United Nations, the EU, the United Kingdom and the United States officially imposed sanctions on prominent Libyan persons. Volumes in the market declined and the MSE Share Index closed in negative territory for the eight consecutive session. The Index dropped by a further 0.4% to 3,588.326 points – the lowest level since 17 December.

Only three equities were active today with HSBC Bank Malta plc shedding a further 1.3% to drop to a new 3-month low of €2.931 on volumes of 16,935 shares. The equity will continue to trade with the entitlement to the final gross dividend of €0.077 per share until next Thursday 3 March.

Malta International Airport plc maintained the €1.75 level across five trades totalling 11,000 shares. The airport operator is shortly expected to publish the February passenger numbers which should be positively impacted by the recent increase in traffic generated by the evacuations of expatriates from Libya. Meanwhile MIA will be publishing its 2010 financial statements on 17 March.

6pm Holdings plc was active for the first time this year as a single trade of 1,180 shares was transacted at the GBP0.46 level, representing a 13.2% slump from the previous close. Offers are already placed lower at the GBP0.45 level with no bids in sight. Last week, the IT Group announced that it has entered into an agreement with Compunet Holdings Limited to acquire two of its subsidiaries for a total consideration of €1 million which will be funded through a rights issue subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. Further details available at http://rizzofarrugia.com/news-events/2011/acquisition-of-local-it-companies-6pm01/.

Some of the local corporate bonds also declined due to the continued political unrest in Libya. The largest drop was recorded in the 6.25% International Hotel Investments plc 2020 bond which declined by 200 basis points to 90%. Moreover most of the Mediterranean Investments Holding plc bonds are now trading below the 90% level. Also noteworthy to mention is the decline in price of the 4.25% FIMBank plc 2013 US Dollar denominated bond to 99%.

Bid prices quoted by the Central Bank of Malta declined in line with the increase in Eurozone yields to around 3.17%. This forced the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index to slip by 0.3% to 980.840 points as the price of the 5.25% MGS 2030 dropped by 52 basis points to 102.12%.