The local equities’ market returned to negative territory last week, as the MSE Equity Total Return Index closed 0.96 per cent lower at 9,707.544 points.

Out of the 21 active equities, 11 securities traded lower while only six advanced. Investor participation was significantly higher than the previous week, as just short of €3 million worth of shares were exchanged across 376 trades.

The major drag on the index was the banking sector, as the two of the largest equities, Bank of Valletta plc (BOV) and HSBC Bank Malta plc (HSBC) both set new, multi-year lows.

BOV extended its negative streak to four consecutive weeks, as its share price sank a further 5.98 per cent to €1.10, a price last reached nearly a decade ago.

The drop in price mainly occurred last Friday, 15 minutes before the market close on a relative low volume when compared to the number of shares traded during the week.

The equity was responsible for over a quarter of total turnover, as 682,288 shares were exchanged over 119 transactions.

HSBC Bank Malta plc followed suit with a 3.16 per cent decline in price, closing at €1.58, having traded at a weekly low €1.51 to set a new 15-year low. A total of 18 transactions were recorded, as 63,418 shares were exchanged.

In the same sector, FIMBank plc slumped 5.38 per cent to a price of $0.615. This was the result of four transactions of a combined 61,252 shares.

Lombard Bank Malta plc  closed unchanged at €2.30.

Malta International Airport plc (MIA) published the traffic results for the first six months of 2019, showing a 5.9 per cent increase in passenger movements over the corresponding period last year.

April was the fastest growing month, with a 10.5 per cent increase in passenger movements, closely followed by June.

The equity was very liquid during the week, as €569,752 worth of shares changed hands over 39 deals. Despite a strong start to the week, the share price closed a minimal 0.71 per cent lower at €6.95.

GO plc also traded somewhat heavily, as 26 transactions of a combined 60,329 shares were recorded. The outcome was a modest gain of 0.44 per cent, reaching a price of €4.60.

BMIT Technologies plc erased the previous week’s minimal gain at the beginning of the week, and continued on a negative trend throughout the week to close 2.78 per cent lower at €0.525.

A total of 165,400 shares traded across 20 deals.

International Hotel Investments plc continued on its recent negative path, as it drifted a further 2.38 per cent to a price of €0.82. Traded volume totalled 117,974 shares.

In the insurance sector, 21,335 Mapfre Middlesea plc shares traded across 11 deals. As a result, the share price rallied an impressive 13.57 per cent to €2.26, in anticipation of the publication of the company’s interim results.

The company’s board last Friday considered and approved the unaudited financial statements of the Group for the financial half year ended June 30, 2019.

The consolidated MAPFRE Middlesea Group registered a profit before tax of €9.83 million, compared to €9.02 million registered during the comparative period last year. 

The profit after tax and minority interests, allocated to shareholders, amounted to €4.31 million as compared to €3.77 million in 2018. 

MAPFRE Middlesea plc non-life business has registered a marked improvement in technical results compared to the previous year, both in premium written and combined ratios. However, results remain susceptible to the volatility caused by large event or risk losses which materially impact such results.

A positive influence on the index was RS2 Software plc

MAPFRE MSV Life plc continues to have stable results reflecting the annual management charge on assets under management which provides stability to the results, shielding them from the impact of fluctuations in the financial markets.  The unrealised capital losses incurred last year have been recovered with rallying markets leading to strong investments yield being attained during the first half year.

In line with the company policy, the board did not propose the payment of an interim dividend.

Another positive influence on the index was RS2 Software plc, as it recorded successive gains mid-week, to soar 11.59 per cent.

The resultant price of €1.83 was the highest closing price in three years for the company. A substantial turnover of €529,015 was generated across 71 trades.

In the food and beverage sector, the previous week’s gain of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc proved unsustainable, as it surrendered 3.85 per cent to return to the €10.00 price level. The equity traded five times as €34,760 worth of shares changed ownership.

Retail conglomerate, PG plc also gave up the previous weekly gain, as it was down 2.44 per cent to €1.60. A couple of transactions of a combined 29,800 shares were executed.

Conversely, Medserv plc partially recouped the previous losses, as a couple of deals of 14,569 shares pushed the price 3.64 per cent higher to €1.14.

The best performer was Loqus Holdings plc, as one deal worth just €135 was executed at €0.068, translating to an increase of 66.67 per cent. A sole deal of 4,035 Santumas Shareholding plc shares had no impact on the price of €1.40.

Performances in the property market were predominantly negative, as fallers amounted to three, while only Trident Estates plc gained ground. The latter traded four times, as 30,332 shares were exchanged.

The result was an increase in value of 3.13 per cent to reach €1.98, the highest closing price since February 2018.

At the other end of the spectrum, Main Street Complex plc lost 3.94 per cent to a price of €0.61 as MIDI plc followed suit with a 1.54 per cent decrease, to €0.64.

Malita Investments plc was unable to fully recover from a weak start to the week, ultimately closing a marginal 0.58 per cent lower at €0.86. A total of 5,157 shares traded over four deals.

The share price of Malta Properties Company plc oscillated between €0.65 and €0.66 throughout the week, ultimately closing at an unchanged price of €0.66. In total, 12 transactions of a combined 192,650 shares were recorded.

Similarly, Plaza Centres plc recorded contrasting sessions which ultimately cancelled each other out, closing at an unchanged price of €1.00.

Trading volume amounted to 72,596 shares over 12 deals.

The local sovereign debt market finally broke its positive trend, as 19 from the 22 active issues traded lower, while only two headed north. The MSE MGS Total Return Index partially erased the previous week’s gain, as it was down 0.69 per cent to 1,090.219 points. The longest dated issue, the 2.4% MGS 2041 (I) registered the largest decline, as it fell 1.56% to €121.08.

On the corporate debt front, performances were once again in the balance as gainers and fallers amounted to 16-a-piece.

In fact, the MSE Corporate Bonds Total Return Index was down just a minimal 0.03 per cent to 1,072.091 points.

The largest movement was a 2.15 per cent decline in the price of the 5.75% Central Business Centres plc Unsecured € 2021 S1T1, which closed at €102.50.

This article, compiled by Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Limited, does not intend to give investment advice and the contents therein should not be construed as such. The company is licensed to conduct investment services by the MFSA and is a member of the Malta Stock Exchange and Atlas Group.

The directors or related parties, including the company and their clients, are likely to have an interest in securities mentioned in this article. For more details contact Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Limited at 67, Level 3, South Street, Valletta, or phone 2122 4410. E-mail –