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 http://rizzofarrugia.com/news-events/2011/full-year-results-hsbc02-2/

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.