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Hansapank reclaimed its leadership on the Tallinn Stock Exchange from Estonian Telecom in a week dominated by a rising trend. TALSE index rose by 1.69 percent during the week to 118.18.
Hansapank moved between 80.50 and 89.85 kroons ($5.96 and $6.65) during the week, producing a five-day turnover of 60 million kroons and closing at 87 kroons on Friday, up 8.07 percent from the end of last week.
Sten Sumberg of Talinvest Suprema said investors had already positioned themselves for Monday's release of banks' results for February.
"After the results are released, positions will be reviewed again," he said.
Sumberg said Hansapank's outlook in the long term is positive no matter what the February outcome turns out to be.
"Hansapank should be expecting a rather good year," Sumberg said.
He forecast a February profit of 30 million to 50 million kroons for the bank.
Shares in Estonian Telecom suffered the biggest decline for any separate issue during the outgoing week.
The share dropped 4.68 percent to 107 percent on a turnover of 44 million kroons.
Sumberg said the price of Telecom shares will be determined in the near future by the overall situation of the market.
"If the banks' results due out on Monday are positive, also Telecom's share will get a boost," he said.
Sumberg said there has been considerable interest from outside Estonia in Norma, which made a massive rise in the later part of the week.
"Norma is a rather interesting share for speculation," Sumberg said. "Encouraging statements by [Norma's] management have drawn attention to the share."
He named reports of a decrease in the debt of Russian customers to Norma as particularly important. Norma is also planning to pay a dividend for 1998.
Norma may have been supported by news about a protocol of intent signed by the leading Russian carmaker, Avtovaz and Germany's Opel, a company of the General Motors group, about launching joint production of cars.
The two companies plan to launch a joint assembly plant near Togliatti, Russia, with an initial capacity of 35,000 cars per year. The first Opel Astras may roll out of the new plant in two years.
The turnover of the stock exchange system during the outgoing week totaled 143 million kroons, of this 2 million kroons from deals in the EVP privatization securities.
Turnover of shares in the supplementary list was 8.4 million kroons.
Latvia: Share prices continue sliding
Concern about banks' losses kept the market in Latvia nervous last week and share prices falling.
"In the coming weeks before the publication of official audited results of companies, it is possible the activity of sellers will increase," said Trasta Komercbanka trader Uldis Bulavs. He believes a further slide in share prices is possible.
Last week, the DJRSE Index slid 2.5 percent to 87.84 points and the RICI was off 1.5 percent to 170.84 points.
The indexes were off as the prices of most liquid shares were down last week. The share prices of Unibanka, Staburadze, Ventspils Nafta, and Latvian Balzams slid between 2 percent and 5 percent.
Average daily turnover was up nearly a third to 52,000 lats ($93,000), but is still too low to satisfy market participants.
The fall in share prices may well continue this coming week. On Saturday, Unibanka announced its audited 1998 loss of 15.07 million lats, 70 percent worse than the bank estimated.
Specialists believe such large losses could lead to a significant change in the bank's share price.
Bulavs believes other shares may be punished along with Unibanka as well.
"The general opinion about the state of Baltic banks is not very optimistic," noted Bulavs.
Unibanka tried to put on a brave face and announced a profit forecast of more than 11 million lats, but it is not clear how it could earn such a high profit without investments into Russia and the CIS.
The rise in Latvian Gaze's share price continued last week, climbing 5 percent to 1.28 lats. Specialists expect it may hold at the 1.30 lat level until the end of the month.
The rise in the world oil price may be good news for Ventspils Nafta, as Russian exporters might drop their intentions to choke Ventspils into lowering tariffs if they believe they can earn more money by increasing exports to the West through the port.
Ventspils Nafta's shares have good growth potential considering they are down 20 percent from the start of the year.
Lithuania: No changes in short holiday week
As was expected there were no major changes on the Lithuanian securities market during the short three-day week; the bourse was closed Thursday and Friday to mark Lithuanian Independence Day.
"The bourse continued on the path of last Thursday, Friday and Saturday," PFM Suprema broker Arvydas Jacikevicius told the Baltic News Service.
The official list Litin index nudged up 0.04 percent to 570.22 points last week, while the LitinA slipped 1.23 percent to 1109.23 points.
Turnover totaled 13.95 million litas ($3.6million) last week, with 57 percent trading in T-bills.
On the central market trading was confined for the most part to several companies, with Vilnius Bank leading the pack. It's share price fell 0.14 percent to 27.69 litas ($6.93) on a turnover of 489,000 litas. Another 180,000 litas in shares were traded in direct deals.
On the current list, trading in Lietuvos Energija was the most active, with 416,700 litas of shares trading hands. Another 172,000 shares were traded in direct deals.
The previous week the electricity utility's shares had held firm, but Monday they unexpectedly dropped, finishing the week down 0.81 percent at 4.88 litas.
Trading was also active in shares in Svyturys brewery at 225,500 litas in turnover. Its share price surged 6.64 percent to 58.92 percent. In direct deals, Siauliu Bank was at the top with 1.04 million litas in turnover.
"During the short week no substantive changes took place, and we hope something more interesting will happen next week," PFM Hansabank Markets broker Aivaras Abromavicius told the BNS.