Trading activity centred around BOV

Trading activity on the equity market remained low during this morning’s session with a total value of only €66,109 traded across the seven active equities. Bank of Valletta plc shares accounted for the majority of today’s volumes as the Bank’s share price slipped 1.2% to €2.49 on volumes of 20,000 shares. BOV is scheduled to hold its Annual General Meeting next Friday during which shareholders will be asked to approve a number of resolutions including the recommended final gross dividend of €0.08 per share and the recommended 1 for 8 bonus issue.

Meanwhile HSBC Bank Malta plc traded unchanged at its 2011 low of €2.55 across two trades amounting to over 1,300 shares. This afternoon, HSBC Malta announced that it will be closing down a total of six branches by mid-March 2012 as part of the Bank’s cost savings plans. Moreover, as announced in its recent Interim Directors Statement, employees will be offered voluntary retirement schemes which will be the main item in the expected one-off restructuring charge of €10 million.

GO plc edged 3.1% higher to regain the €1 level on a single deal of 100 shares. On the other hand, the share price of the Greek company Forthnet SA is currently trading at a new all-time low of €0.111 ahead of the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow. During this EGM, Forthnet’s shareholders will be asked to approve a number of changes to the company’s capital structure and a €30 million rights issue in line with the conditions of the latest €90 million bond loan.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index rose 0.2% higher to 985.59 points as Eurozone yields slipped back to just above the 2% level. The drop in yields was due to comments by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which she reiterated her country’s opposition to an increase in the size of the European Stability Mechanism. The euro slipped below the US$1.30 level against the dollar for the first time since January 2011 on the possibility of further credit rating downgrades of Eurozone countries amid uncertainties over a solution for the prevailing European sovereign debt crisis. The price of the 5.2% MGS 2031 traded up to a close of 102.60% on high volumes of €378,400 (nominal).