Low activity persists across local equities
Following the upsurge of 2.21% on the last day of trading in 2019, the MSE Equity Price Index opened the new year with a drop of 0.88% to 4,672.858 points. The decline was mostly driven by the sharp losses in the share prices of HSBC and IHI which, however, took place on trivial volumes. On the other hand, four companies trended higher whilst another four shares closed the first trading day of 2020 unchanged. Trading volumes remained weak as only €0.09 million worth of shares changed hands. Download today’s Equity Market Summary.
HSBC Bank Malta plc retreated to the €1.20 level (-7.7%) across 3,925 shares.
Within the same sector, Bank of Valletta plc eased by 0.5% to the €1.055 level on a total of 5,600 shares. Yesterday, the bank announced a number of updates to its Board of Directors including the regulatory approval of Mr Rick Hunkin as BOV’s new CEO.
Also among the large caps, International Hotel Investments plc shed 2.4% to the €0.81 on lacklustre volumes.
In contrast, RS2 Software plc added 0.9% to regain the €2.16 level across 9,378 shares. Last Friday, RS2 issued a detailed Interim Directors’ Statement updating the market on its business development initiatives during 2019 as well as an explanation of the strategy going forward. In this respect, RS2 noted that during the past twelve months, the company continued to build on the success of the previous year in terms of regional and business expansion. More specifically, RS2 executed strategic milestones to increase its customer base and diversify its businesses in Europe and globally covering various industries. Moreover, the implementation and deployment of significant customers of RS2 Smart Processing Ltd (which is the transaction processing services arm of RS2) is in the final stages to launch services in early 2020. Meanwhile, RS2 is obtaining its financial institution licence from the German regulator which is expected to be issued during mid-2020. In North America, RS2’s subsidiary, RS2 Software Inc. is now offering a global, complete and modern cloud-based processing platform for any form of payment and is also in the final stages of signing several agreements in different industries in the US.
GO plc advanced by 0.5% to the €4.28 level across 7,407 shares.
A single deal of just 144 shares lifted the equity of Mapfre Middlesea plc 0.9% higher to the €2.18 level.
Malta Properties Company plc recaptured the €0.65 level on 13,061 shares.
Meanwhile, BMIT Technologies plc opened at a low of €0.515 (-1%) before closing the day unchanged at the €0.52 level. A total of 22,000 shares changed hands.
Three companies traded flat on low volumes, namely Malta International Airport plc (€6.90), Medserv plc (€1.10) and Simonds Farsons Cisk plc (€11.50). MIA is soon expected to publish its December 2019 traffic results. During the eleven-month period to 30 November 2019, the company welcomed more than 6.8 million passengers, representing an increase of 6.9% over the previous comparable period in 2018. MIA had stated in mid-January 2019 that it was expecting passenger movements to increase by 5.8% during the whole of 2019 to 7.2 million.
The RF MGS Index started the new year on a high as it surged by 0.15% (the sharpest daily uplift in three weeks) to 1,143.304 points. Prices of Malta Government Stocks moved higher as geo-political tensions in the Middle East escalated considerably after a US drone strike on an airport in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, caused the death of a top Iranian general. The incident took place after the US Embassy in Baghdad was reportedly targeted by Iranian-backed militants in recent days. In this context, demand for ‘safe-haven’ assets across international financial markets rose markedly. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve is today expected to publish the minutes of its latest policy meeting wherein analysts’ attention will be mostly focused on any hints about the central bank’s intentions to introduce a standing repo facility (a tool that would allow banks to convert eligible assets into reserves on demand) as well as a reiteration that interest rates in the US will remain unchanged this year.