Negative day for equities

During this morning’s trading session most of the active equities moved lower forcing the MSE Share Index to decline by 0.9% to 3,804.528 points – its lowest level since 11 January. The Share Index ended the week 1.4% lower as the five largest equities by market cap all closed in negative territory.

HSBC Bank Malta plc’s share price slipped by 1.4% to the €3.45 level on low volumes of 2,900 shares prior to the results announcement which were published shortly after the market closed. HSBC revealed a 16.7% increase in pre-tax profits to €83.1 million. The improvement in profitability was mainly achieved by growth in revenue especially in net interest income which grew by 17% to €122.8 million. This outweighed the 4.6% rise in operating costs to €87.6 million following the Bank’s investments in branch refurbishment, process improvements and performance based rewards. On the Balance Sheet side deposits (+€376.2 million) grew at a faster rate than loans (+€77.4 million). The Directors recommend a final gross dividend of €0.077 to be paid to all shareholders as at close of trading on 3 March. The full-year dividend for 2010 is minimally below the total distribution in respect of the previous financial year. Further details available at

Bank of Valletta plc also succumbed to fresh selling pressure as the equity slumped 1.6% to a new 2011 low of €3.00 representing a weekly drop of 1.6%. Twenty eight trades totalling 45,655 shares were transacted today with bids already placed minimally higher at the €3.002 level. Similar trend also evident in Malta International Airport plc shares as the equity of airport operator slumped 2.8% to close at the €1.75 level on volumes of 13,626 shares. MIA’s equity ranks as the worst performer of the week with a 5.4% decline. This afternoon MIA announced that its Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on 17 March to consider and approve the Group’s 2010 financial results and consider the declaration of a final dividend to shareholders.

GO plc recovers from an intra-day low of €1.80 to close 0.5% higher at the €1.859 level on a last-minute trade. Over 54,000 shares changed hands today – the bulk of which were transacted at the €1.80 level. Despite today’s minimal upturn, the share price is still down 2.1% this week.

Meanwhile the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index climbed a further 0.2% to 982.525 points as the Eurozone benchmark yield this morning continued to slip lower to below the 3.20% level. Overall, the MGS Index recovered most of last week’s decline as it ended this week 0.3% higher. All subscriptions for Malta Government Stocks are now closed. The Treasury is shortly expected to publish the statistics with respect to this week’s new Malta Government Stock issues.