Marginal declines at MSE for third day

This morning’s session marked the third successive decline for the MSE Share Index with a further 0.1% drop back to 3,234.126 points. Today’s downturn was mainly due to the decline in the active financial equities.

Bank of Valletta plc shares shed 0.4% to close at the €2.26 level across 27,848 shares prior to the publication of the Bank’s Interim Directors’ Statement. This afternoon the Directors explained that since the start of the current financial year on 1 October 2012, the Bank continued to experience pressure on its interest margins whilst non-interest income was boosted by higher net commissions from its cards business and investments section and also benefitted from price gains on BOV’s investment portfolio. At the same time, costs remained close to the comparable period of last year whilst impairment charges decreased. In conclusion, the Directors noted that local demand for credit is expected to remain subdued in the run-up to the March general elections whilst economic activity in Europe will continue to be marred by austerity measures although the expected economic recovery in late 2013 is anticipated to stabilise the economic scenario across the Eurozone.

Minimal decline in the share price of HSBC Bank Malta plc to €2.72 on volumes of 5,100 shares. HSBC is scheduled to publish its 2012 full-year results on 4 March. Similarly, Lombard Bank Malta plc’s shares retreated by 0.5% back to the €1.88 level on volumes of 18,646 shares ahead of the 2012 figures scheduled for publication on 14 March. The other financial equity today, Middlesea Insurance plc, eased 1.3% lower to the €0.79 level on a single deal of 404 shares.

Likewise, the share price of Plaza Centres plc slid 1.7% lower to €0.585 across a single trade of 5,000 shares.

On the other hand, GO plc’s share price continued to recover from this week’s earlier declines with another 0.7% rise to the €1.37 level on volumes of 4,000 shares.

Meanwhile, the only other two active equities today ended the session unchanged with Grand Harbour Marina plc maintaining the €1.90 level and International Hotel Investments plc held on to the €0.74 level on low volumes.

In other news, Crimsonwing plc issued its Interim Directors statement explaining that since the start of its current financial year on 1 April 2012 to the end of January 2013, revenues grew by 19% to €14.9 million and expects profits for the second-half of the year (covering the six months ending 31 March 2013) to be similar to those reported for the first-half of the current financial year when the Group registered a pre-tax profit of €0.55 million. In the announcement, the Directors also explained the continued investment in the Group’s solutions as well as a new initiative aimed at strengthening the Group’s annuity revenues both of which are leading to increased interest in the Group’s solutions even on an international scale.

This afternoon, MIDI plc also issued a press release confirming the commencement of works on a new 13-storey block (referred to as T17 East), comprising 35 apartments and 3 duplex penthouses, situated on the foreshore of Tigne Point. All excavation works, underground parking, roads and service network routes are already complete. The release also reiterated that 98% of the apartments already constructed at Tigne Point have been sold and handed over to their respective owners.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index eased a further 0.1% to a 5-week low of 1,006.699 points reflecting the continued support for Eurozone yields close to the 1.7% level. However, by this afternoon, the benchmark 10-year German Bund yield plunged back to the 1.65% following the release of economic data showing that the gross domestic product (GDP) in the Eurozone contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.6% during the last quarter of 2012, representing the worst decline since the first quarter of 2009.