Banks lead MSE Share Index 1.2% higher this week

For the first time in five weeks, the MSE Share Index ended this shortened week in positive territory with a rise of 1.2% to a three-week high of 3,114.572 points. This turnaround was mainly due to the recovery in the share price of the two large banks. Bank of Valletta plc advanced by a further 0.4% during this morning’s session to close at the €2.59 level representing a 2.8% weekly rise. On the other hand, HSBC Bank Malta plc slid 1.1% lower today to €2.70 but still registered a 1.1% weekly increase. Lombard Bank Malta plc also edged 0.8% higher today to regain the €2.70 level helping the equity to a marginal increase over the week.

Malta International Airport plc was also amongst the positive performers this week, as its share price rose by 1.3% during the past four sessions to regain the €1.54 level. Last Monday the airport operator revealed that passenger movements during the month of August declined minimally to 427,575 compared to the monthly record of last year amounting to 427,924 passengers. During the first eight months of the year, MIA’s passenger movements have increased by 8.5% mainly due to the increased seat capacity during the first four months. MIA is expecting an increase of 3.2% in passenger traffic during 2011 to a new record high of 3.4 million passenger movements.

FIMBank plc shares were active for the first time in almost two months as a single trade of 1,400 shares was transacted this morning at the US$0.77 level.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index today staged a sharp recovery as Eurozone yields slid towards a new all-time low of 1.81% on continued concerns about the future prospects of the region’s economy. This was confirmed by the European Central Bank yesterday afternoon as President Jean-Claude Trichet discussed the central bank’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged at 1.5 percent as downside risks to the eurozone economy intensified. The local MGS benchmark reversed most of last Wednesday’s 0.5% drop (following the downgrade of Malta’s credit rating from A2 to A1 by Moody’s) as it climbed by 0.3% today to close at 996.028 points, representing a weekly rise of 0.4%. Meanwhile, on the corporate bond market, the most notable development was the increase in the price of the 7.15% Mediterranean Investments Holding plc sterling bond to par value in response to this week’s announcement that the Palm City Residences complex is already receiving requests from new clients to lease units with immediate effect.