The MSE Equity Price Index moved slightly lower on Friday to 4,482.026 points as the drops in MIDI and Malita slightly outweighed the gains in MPC.

Meanwhile, seven equities ended unchanged while trading volumes remained high, largely reflecting robust activity in the shares of HSBC and MIA.

HSBC Bank Malta plc managed to close unchanged at the €1.78 level after recovering from an intra-day low of €1.73 (-2.8%). A total of 98,021 shares traded. On Friday, the bank issued an Interim Directors’ Statement saying that pre-tax profits in the nine-month period up to September 2018 were lower than the previous comparable period amid persisting low interest rates, a further reduction in the corporate loan book (which offset the continued growth in mortgage business) as well as the full year effect of risk management actions undertaken during 2017.

The bank’s performance was also dented by higher operating expenses reflecting investments in regulatory programmes and anti-financial crime as well as business growth initiatives. From a regulatory perspective, the bank noted its strong level of liquidity and capital ratios continued to exceed regulatory capital requirements. In this respect, HSBC Malta also indicated that it will provide an update on its medium-term capital plan in the fourth quarter of this year.

Also in the banking sector, Bank of Valletta plc (36,375 shares) and FIMBank plc (10,000 shares) ended flat at €1.34 and $0.79 respectively.

Malta International Airport plc held on to the €6.25 level across 22,990 shares. On Wednesday, MIA published the October 2018 traffic results revealing an 8.4% increase in passenger movements to 646,559 movements – a new record for the month of October. During the 10 months up to October 2018, more than 5.9 million passengers were welcomed representing a 13.5% increase over the comparable period last year.

Eight deals totalling 58,400 shares left the equity of International hotel Investments plc at the €0.60 level.

Tigné Mall plc remained at its 2018 low of €0.92 across 50,000 shares.

On the other hand, Malta Properties Company plc surged 3.7% to regain the €0.56 level albeit on just 500 shares.

Within the same sector, both MIDI plc and Malita Investments plc closed Friday's trading session in negative territory. MIDI shed 2.8% to the €0.70 level across 109,700 shares while Malita retracted back to €0.90 (-1.1%) on 66,594 shares.

The RF MGS Index erased some of Thursday's sharp decline as it rebounded by 0.11% to 1,083.002 points. Eurozone sovereign yields drifted mostly lower on Friday (except for Italian government bonds), possibly reflecting the downward revision by the European Commission of its economic growth forecast for the single currency area in 2019 to 1.9% from the previous estimate of 2%.

Meanwhile, on Friday the US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged at a range of between 2% and 2.25%. At the conclusion of its two-day monetary policy meeting, the Federal Reserve provided an upbeat assessment of the US economy, thus further supporting expectations about a possible interest rate hike at the next monetary policy meeting scheduled for 18 and 19 December, 2018.

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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