BOV and HSBC both decline

Last Friday’s return into positive territory by the local equity market was short-lived as the MSE Share Index retreated by 0.5% during this morning’s trading session to 3,554.728 points – the lowest level since 16 December 2010. This drop was due to a fresh bout of selling pressure across the equities of the two large banks. After edging marginally higher on low volumes last Friday, HSBC Bank Malta plc’s share price slipped by 0.7% to the €2.94 level across four deals totalling 11,753 shares. Bank of Valletta plc’s equity closed lower for the third consecutive session following last Wednesday’s downgrade by Fitch of the Bank’s long-term credit rating to ‘BBB+’. BOV’s share price lost a further 1.7% to a new 4-month low of €2.85 on volumes of almost 26,000 shares.

Meanwhile Malta International Airport plc edged 0.9% higher to €1.75 following the publication of the February traffic results. This morning’s announcement revealed a double-digit growth in passenger numbers for the tenth consecutive month. After excluding the exceptional 5,500 passenger movements generated from the Libyan-related evacuation flights, the statistics show a normalised growth rate of +14.1% in passenger movements during February. Including the extra traffic generated during the final week of February, the increase in passengers rises to +17.8%. MIA noted that passenger movements by means of military and private aircraft had no impact on the results as this traffic is excluded from official figures.

GO plc recovered from a fresh 16-month low of €1.75 to close unchanged at the €1.77 level across 7,140 shares. The only other active equity, Middlesea Insurance plc, saw its share price inch minimally higher to €1.003 on volumes of 5,241 shares ahead of the 2010 full-year results publication on 14 March.

Following last week’s announcements by Plaza Centres plc and FIMBank plc, this week Lombard Bank Malta plc will be issuing its 2010 financial statements on Thursday 10 March.

On the bond market, the Rizzo, Farrugia MGS Index edged 0.2% higher to close at 977.166 points as the benchmark 10-year Eurozone yields eased back below the 3.30% level this morning. The price of the longest-dated MGS improved to 101.66%.

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