Large cap equities drag Share Index lower

The local equity market closed the lower for the third successive trading session of the New Year as seven out of eight active equities declined during this morning’s session. The MSE Share Index plunged another 1.4% today to 3,711.632 points mainly due to further declines in the share prices of the two large banks and International Hotel Investments plc.

Bank of Valletta plc slid a further 1.3% lower to the €3.82 level despite still trading with the entitlement to the 1 for 5 bonus share issue until next Friday. Over 18,800 shares traded today. Similarly, HSBC Bank Malta plc closed 0.6% lower at the €3.17 level on significantly diminished volumes of 4,780 shares.

IHI reversed some of the 25.2% rise recorded in December as the shares were active for the first time in 2011. This equity lost 4.8% this morning closing the day at the €0.90 level on volumes of 49,600 shares. Recently the Company announced that it is undertaking a private placement of new shares at a price above the nominal value of €1.00.

Malta International Airport plc and Simonds Farsons Cisk plc were also amongst the negative performers today. The share price of the airport operator eased 0.6% from its 2010 high to close at the €1.65 level on a single trade of 2,000 shares with the equity of Farsons declining by 1.2% to €1.68 across two trades totalling 2,333 shares.

On a positive note, MaltaPost plc this morning published its September 2010 full-year results showing a 7% rise in after-tax profits to €2.1 million. This improvement was due to the marginal increase in revenue which offset the slight increase in overall costs. The Directors recommended a final net dividend of €0.04 per share which may be taken in cash or in new shares at the attribution price of €0.92 per share. Further details and copy of the preliminary results available at http://rizzofarrugia.com/news-events/2011/full-year-results-mtp01-2/.