Today marks the end of the first quarter of 2012. Similar to the trend in the last two months of 2011, the local equity market slid lower during each of the first three months of 2012. In fact, the MSE Share Index tumbled 5% lower during the first quarter of 2012 mainly due to the double-digit declines in the share prices of GO plc and International Hotel Investments plc. The equity of the quad-play telecom operator slid a further 14.4% lower to €0.839 during Q1 2012 reflecting investors’ concerns over the Group’s investment in Forthnet which led to a record €51 million loss. Meanwhile, during the first three months of 2012, IHI’s equity reversed the recovery it registered in late 2011 despite the operational improvements achieved by the Group’s properties in Europe, the opening of the London hotel and the gradual return to normal operations by the Hotel in Tripoli.
Moreover, HSBC Bank Malta plc and Bank of Valletta plc, the largest local equities by market capitalisation, also ended in negative territory during the first quarter of 2012 given the prevailing challenging economic scenario. HSBC’s share price eased by 2.5% to the €2.515 level with BOV’s equity shedding 4.6% to the €2.12 level.
Only four equities traded higher during the first three months of 2012 with FIMBank plc among the top performers with a 10.4% rise in the share price of to the US$0.85 level after the trade finance specialist revealed the possibility of a takeover by Burgan Bank (a Kuwaiti based bank).
On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index ended the first quarter of 2012 0.7% lower at 982.498 points despite a marginal decline to the 1.8% level in Eurozone yields. Nonetheless, bond markets experienced significant volatility during the period under review as markets sporadically moved between stints of improved sentiment to subdued periods reflecting the Greek debt restructuring, mixed economic data as well as conflicting remarks by politicians and other commentators.