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The Baltic index, listing the highest capitalization Baltic states' stocks, remained almost unchanged over the past week, edging up just 0.11 percent to 146.78. Moreover, with images of the upcoming festivities dancing in their heads, any major changes in the index are unlikely before the new year, as traders close up shop and leave for the holidays.
Since the start of 2001 the Baltic index has risen by almost 15 percent, a strong year when viewed against most major world indexes. Ten of the listed stocks have posted gains for the year while four have moved lower. The largest gain was posted by the gas company Latvijas Gaze, up 84.64 percent to 11.66 euros. The most dismal performance has been from Balta, whose share price has fallen 51.04 percent. The Baltic List turnover amounted to 484 million euros ($432.14 million), of this Estonian stocks accounted for 48 percent, Latvian 36 percent, Lithuanian 16 percent. The Baltic List's capitalization dropped 2.5 percent, mainly due to the delisting of several companies.
During the last week eight stocks fell while six posted gains. The oil terminal Ventspils Nafta proved the winner, surging 7.8 percent to 1.24 euros while the insurer Balta registered the sharpest fall, plummeting 14.9 percent to 3.09 euros.
The Baltic List's capitalization stood almost unchanged at 2.53 billion euros with losses in Estonian and Lithuanian telecom stocks compensated for by gains in Hansapank, Latvijas Gaze and Ventspils Nafta.
The Baltic List turnover grew nearly twofold over the last week to 5.98 million euros, up from 3.92 million euros. Of the total turnover, Estonian stocks accounted for 94 percent, Lithuanian and Latvian stocks just some 3 percent each on average.
Baltic List stocks dominated trade on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, contributing 98 percent of its weekly turnover, while in Latvia the indicator was 52 percent and Lithuania just 8 percent.
Estonia: Investors pull profits out of Norma
Investors on the Tallinn bourse focused their attention again on key stocks, as shares in Hansapank continued in their upward move. Still, fears surrounding potential future problems at the car safety-belt manufacturer Norma, and falling share prices in Eesti Telekom prevented the indexes from rising further.
The TALSE index changed little in the five days, ending 0.02 points, or 0.01 percent, down at 140.94. Calculated in euros, the price index of the five Estonian Baltic List stocks was almost flat, closing 0.41 percent down at 120.09. The week's turnover totaled 95.4 million kroons ($5.5 million).
"The start of the week was positive as momentum extended from last week, but the market here came under pressure due to falls in foreign markets, and prices began to move down," Trigon Markets broker Kaur Elviste said. In terms of turnover, Hansapank was the uncontested leader at 62.6 million kroons. The share posted gains of 3.03 percent, finishing at 158.15 kroons.
In full accordance with global trends in the IT and communication sectors, Eesti Telekom shares fell 2.85 percent to 68.25 kroons amid a relatively small turnover of 16.4 million kroons.
Investors took profits in Norma with concerns building over speculation that the company has problems in concluding a new agreement with Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ. At the same time the car safety-equipment producer itself announced on Dec. 13 that management was not aware of any alleged difficulties in signing a new supply contract with AvtoVAZ, its largest business partner. Nevertheless, Norma fell 4.1 percent to 51.5 kroons amid a turnover of 8.3 million kroons.
EVP privatization vouchers jumped 5.83 percent to end at 0.684 kroons, their highest closing level since Jan. 12. In all, 5.6 million kroons' worth of the vouchers changed hands. "Significantly higher levels will apparently not be seen anymore this year, trading activity is about to subsist and prices may take a downward turn," Elviste said.
Latvia: Experts doubt support for Ventspils Nafta gains
All Latvian stock indexes rose last week, tracking gains posted by Ventspils Nafta and Latvijas Gaze. The price index RICI rose 2.13 percent to 152.49 and the capitalization index DJRSE, as calculated in lats, headed higher by 2.21 percent, to 190.16. The Latvian euro price index of the Baltic List stocks edged up 0.8 percent to 199.09. Share turnover for the week was 151,057 lats ($239,014).
Ventspils Nafta on Dec. 14 closed at 0.7 lats, up 7.7 percent amid a 34,465 lat turnover. Most anaylsts believe, however, that Ventspils Nafta's price level is not sustainable and will soften in the coming days. After the close of trading Dec. 14, Ventspils Nafta announced a profit target for the new year of just 3.4 million lats, which is five times lower than this year's figure.
Even with regards to the fact that Ventspils Nafta's management usually publishes profit target figures at lower than their actual expectations (meaning profits next year could reach 5 to 8 million lats), investors nevertheless seem disappointed. Things may be different this time, as growing pessimism from management may accurately reflect concerns now that the Russian company LUKoil last week affirmed that once the terminal at their Primorsk port was commissioned, Russia's export flows would be redirected at the cost of Baltic oil flows.
Latvijas Gaze's 1.5 percent gain, to 6.6 lats, amid a 53,740 lat turnover indicates that there is still aggressive buying. Market analysts say speculators could be bidding prices higher in the hopes of maintaining high prices for the upcoming auction in which shares are sold in exchange for privatization vouchers. Insurer Balta saw almost no trade last week with the stock dropping 14.6 percent to 1.75 lats in the wake of the announcement about the planned delisting of the shares, slated to happen as of the start of next year.
Lithuania: Gas company leads trade
Lietuvos Dujos was at the center of trading interest on the Lithuanian stock exchange last week, as the gas company's upcoming privatization had investors keeping an eye on the ticker tape. Most other stocks went largely unnoticed.
The bourse's continuously tracked price index Litin-10 edged down 0.43 percent to 1,151.14, the blue chip index Litin drifted 0.78 percent lower to 309.45, and the broad index Litin-G was off 0.26 percent to 859.39. Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List stocks ended the week flat at 142.87. The week's equity turnover reached 9.5 million litas ($2.37 million).
Market participants say trading has been rather boring lately amid a lack of market moving news, noting that information that comes to the market does not seem to impress investors either. These trends are likely to continue in the near term, with the approaching Christmas season expected to further slow activity.
Listed on the secondary current list, Lietuvos Dujos eased 0.48 percent to 2.09 litas on a turnover of 622,400 litas. Another 4.4 million litas' worth of shares in the gas company changed hands via block trades. On the official list, blue chip Lietuvos Telekomas slid 1.68 percent to 1.17 litas in trade worth 349,200 litas in full compliance with major trends in the global IT sector stocks.
Dairy Rokiskio Suris dipped 0.03 percent to 30.50 litas on a turnover of 130,100 litas. Another 48,000 litas' worth of shares in the dairy changed owners in block trading.
On Dec. 12, TV-tube manufacturer Ekranas announced a 6.2 million litas net profit for November, up by 14.8 percent from the same period a year ago and by 87.9 percent against October's figures. Good operating results, however, failed to produce substantial investor excitement. Ekranas closed just 0.84 percent higher at 6 litas in trade worth 108,200 litas.
Refrigerator producer Snaige edged down 0.28 percent to 36 litas amid a turnover of 62,900 litas; knitwear manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas climbed 2.63 percent to 3.90 litas in trade worth 25,000 litas; brewer Kalnapilis advanced 0.17 percent to 6.07 litas with 13,300 litas' worth of shares traded.
On the current list, the shipping company Lietuvos Juru Laivininkyste soared 11.11 percent to 0.10 litas in trade worth 52,700 litas; ferry operator Lisco Baltic Service closed 2.94 percent higher at 0.35 litas on a turnover of 206,500 litas.
On Dec. 12, a state-owned stake of 5.5 percent in brewer Ragutis was sold through a public offering at 12.56 litas a share. The total value of the transaction was 1.5 million litas.