MSE Share Index retreats as MGS prices rise

During this shortened week, the MSE Share Index slipped 1.1% lower to 3,124.44 points following a renewed bout of selling pressure in the equities of the two large local banks. International equity markets have suffered another major downturn in the past two days amid increased evidence of a slowdown in global economic growth. Yesterday, European equity markets registered their largest daily declines for the past 32 months. Currently, Germany’s DAX Index is heading for a weekly drop of 9.3% with the FTSE 100 in the UK showing a loss of 6% from last Friday’s close.

This morning the share price of Bank of Valletta plc shed another 0.9% to drop back to the €2.565 level on volumes of over 20,000, representing a 1.7% weekly decline. HSBC Bank Malta plc ended this shortened week 2.2% lower at a 22-month low of €2.70.

GO plc was also amongst this week’s negative performers with a 0.4% drop despite this morning’s slight increase to the €1.255 level. Both GO and Forthnet (in which GO has an indirect investment) still have to announce the date of their interim results publication.

Smaller equities by market capitalisation were also adversely impacted by the downturn in the local equity market. RS2 Software plc retreated by 1.8% to the €0.55 level as 11,800 shares traded for the first time this week ahead of the Company’s half-year results publication, expected by the end of August. MaltaPost plc dropped to a new 8-month low of €0.99 as 8,300 traded this morning. Yesterday, the postal operator published its Interim Statement covering the period from 1 April 2011 to mid-August. During this period, MaltaPost reported that overall turnover figures are marginally higher and profitability on normal trading activity is in line with the comparative period. However, the positive fluctuations from foreign exchange that enhanced revenue streams during the last financial year were not repeated during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Lombard Bank Malta plc remained well supported as a further 13,000 shares traded at the €2.70 level.

On the bond market, Eurozone yields continued to decline reaching a level of 2.07% this morning after touching an all-time low of 2.02% yesterday afternoon. This renewed downturn in benchmark yields triggered a further upward revision in Malta Government Stock bid prices issued by the Central Bank of Malta stockbroker. As a result, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index climbed a further 0.3% today to a 7-month high of 993.652 points – just 0.83 points below the 2011 high recorded on 10 January 2011.

Activity across local government paper was sustained with another €5.7 million (nominal) changing hands this morning for a weekly total of €20.68 million (nominal). The two most active stocks this week were the 5.7% MGS 2012 (III) and the 6.6% MGS 2019 which together accounted for half of this week’s trading in nominal terms.