The MSE Equity Price Index eased by 0.41% to 4,487.497 points on Thursday as the declines in HSBC, BOV, BMIT and MIDI outweighed the gains in Plaza and Malita.

Meanwhile, a further six shares closed the day unchanged while trading volumes improved markedly to €1.54 million on the back of significant activity in MIA.

Malta International Airport plc maintained the €6.40 level on robust volumes totalling 160,052 shares having a market value of €1.02 million. On Wednesday, MIA published its 2018 full-year financial results showing a record EBITDA of €54.4 million (+12.1%) and a net profit of €30.3 million (+25.6%). The directors are recommending a 28.6% increase in the final net dividend to €0.09 per share. Coupled with the net interim dividend of €0.03 per share paid in September 2018, the total net dividend for the year amounts to €0.12 per share, representing a 20% increase from the previous comparable period. The final dividend is payable on May 29 to shareholders as at close of trading on April 11.

GO plc opened slightly higher to regain its recent multi-year high of €4.40 before settling unchanged at the €4.38 level across 36,786 shares. The company is due to publish its 2018 full-year financial results on March 8.

Also among the large companies, International Hotel Investments plc retained the €0.66 level on a total of 94,760 shares.

Medserv plc (22,000 shares) and PG plc (75,197 shares) also closed flat at €1.10 and €1.38 respectively.

Two deals totalling 21,500 shares left the equity of FIMBank plc at the $0.70 level.

Within the same segment, HSBC Bank Malta plc moved back to the €1.65 level (-1.8%) on volumes of 6,300 shares. Shareholders as at close of trading on March 14 are entitled to a final net dividend of €0.012 per share.

Low trading activity also took place in the equity of Bank of Valletta plc which retracted by 0.8% to the €1.25 level. The bank is due to publish its 2018 full-year results on March 15 whilst the annual general meeting is scheduled for May 9.

BMIT Technologies plc lost 1.8% to €0.535 across 129,100 shares whilst a single deal of 60,000 shares forced the equity of MIDI plc to retreat to €0.65 (-0.8%).

In contrast, Plaza Centres plc added 1% to an over three-month high of €1.04 across 24,381 shares.

Malita Investments plc advanced by 1.1% to regain the €0.92 level albeit on trivial volumes.

The RF MGS Index trended lower for the first time in four days as it eased by 0.09% to 1,104.026 points. Sovereign bond yields in the euro area moved mostly higher following yesterday’s publication of the minutes of the most recent monetary policy meeting of the US Federal Reserve, as well as the minutes of the European Central Bank meeting which were issued on Thursday.

The highlight of the Fed minutes was the decision to halt balance sheet contraction (or “quantitative tightening”) in the second half of this year in order to counter certain uncertainties being created across financial markets. As a result, “almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings later this year.” The Fed minutes also indicated that although there are some concerns over the economic outlook in the US, “several” Fed rate-setters still opined “that, if the economy evolved as they expected, they would view it as appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate later this year”. Similarly, the minutes of the ECB monetary policy meeting showed that the central bank still believes that an interest rate hike in the second half of this year is possible, notwithstanding the various signs of economic slowdown across the single currency area. At the same time, however, the ECB seems to be making the necessary preparations for injecting fresh liquidity into the euro monetary system through new long-term loans to banks.

Stock markets are volatile and subject to fluctuations which cannot be reasonably foreseen. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.


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