The local equity market was off to a bright start for the month of August with most equities closing the day higher this morning. The MSE Share Index climbed 1.3% to 3,266.682 points as most equities recovered from last week’s declines.
The share price of HSBC Bank Malta plc advanced by 3% to €2.885 as the market reacted positively to last Friday’s announcement of a 19% increase in first half pre-tax profits to €50.4 million. Activity in HSBC shares remained weak with only 2,250 shares changing hands. Last Friday HSBC declared a gross interim dividend of €0.082 per share (equivalent to €0.053 net of tax) to those shareholders as at close of trading next Friday 5 August.
Higher volumes were evident in Bank of Valletta plc shares with renewed demand for BOV helping the equity gain a further 1.5% to €2.63. Also in the banking sector, Lombard Bank Malta plc closed marginally higher at €2.58 on volumes of 8,800 shares. Last week Lombard’s share price dropped to a 2011 low of €2.56 but renewed support has emerged for this equity ahead of the publication of interim results on Tuesday 23 August.
Malta International Airport plc was another positive performer today with the equity edging a further 0.6% higher to regain the €1.60 level. Shareholders as at close of trading on Wednesday 3 August will be entitled to a net interim dividend of €0.03 per share.
GO plc was the only negative performer this morning as a deal of 1,000 shares was executed at marginally below last Friday’s close of €1.30.
Following the start of the interim reporting season last week, this week only Middlesea Insurance plc will be publishing its financial statements on Friday 5 August. Middlesea shareholders should also be imminently receiving details of the takeover bid being launched by the Spanish insurance company Mapfre Internacional S.A. following last Friday’s purchase of 18.3 million Middlesea shares from Munich Re at a price of €0.63 per share via a special trade affected on the Malta Stock Exchange. This transaction increased Mapfre’s shareholding in Middlesea to 50.98%.