Estonia: Traders hope that ride lasts
A buoyant mood dominated the Tallinn Stock Exchange last week, with shares in Hansapank proving the investors' favorite. The TALSE index rose 2.39 percent to 151.49 on a total turnover of nearly 116 million kroons ($6.61 million). Baltic List stocks contributed 96 percent to this turnover, at 11.3 million kroons. Calculated in euros, the price index of the five Estonian Baltic List shares fell 0.23 percent due to a slump in trading in Tallinna Kaubamaja shares.
"It was a relatively positive week, with big turnovers and a liquid market," Trigon Markets broker Kaur Elviste told the Baltic News Service. "Only the end of the week was slightly disappointing." The broker added that Central and East European markets were strong and continued to get stronger.
Still, Wall Street's week ending downfall, after a quite pessimistic speech by Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, may foretell negative consequences ahead for European and Estonian markets. Hansabank Markets trader Lauri Lind warned investors not to be overly optimistic. "If liquidity should disappear and the world markets weaken, the danger is that prices may start coming down," Lind said.
The most traded share last week was that of Hansapank - it rose 3.34 percent to 170 kroons - selling at one point at 170.50 kroons, its highest level since November 3, 1997. "Shares in Hansapank rose on the coattails of foreign markets," Elviste said.
Shares in Eesti Telekom and Norma reached their own minor milestones. On Jan. 8, Telekom closed at 75.75 kroons, its highest level for the past seven months. With a 24 million kroon turnover, it was the week's second-best traded share. For the week, shares in Telekom gained 1.5 percent, closing at 74.50 kroons.
The runner-up to Hansa and Telekom with 7.8 million kroons' worth of trade was Norma, which climbed 2 percent to 56 kroons. The closing price of Norma stock, at 56.70 kroons a share on Jan. 8, was its highest level since May 19, 1998.
Latvia: Awaiting operating results
Latvia's stock market remained inactive during the outgoing week with most shares either unchanged or posting minimal gains. The price index RICI rose 2.2 percent to 164.31 and the capitalization index DJRSE was up 0.6 percent to 197.28.
The Baltic index of the two remaining Latvian stocks on the Baltic List, calculated in euros, was ahead 1.06 percent to 261.74. Market turnover was unusually high, at 210,000 lats ($330,189). Of this, nearly 70 percent was contributed by one block deal, involving shares in Rota, the illiquid publishing company, traded on the free list.
The Baltic List's stocks contributed 24,670 lats, or 12 percent, of the Riga Stock Exchange's total weekly turnover. Specialists have said that any significant moves now on bourse listings are expected only after company annual reports are released.
Concerning the natural gas company Latvijas Gaze, share prices will be impacted by the outcome of the public offering, for privatization vouchers, whose results will be announced in late February. During the last week Latvijas Gaze gained 0.75 percent, closing at 6.7 lats amid 22,500 lats in turnover. The stock, though, may lack support in the intermediate term. Latvijas Unibanka analysts believe one of Latvijas Gaze's large investors is artificially keeping the stock price high and, therefore, the share price's future is in doubt once this investor's interest subsides.
The oil terminal Ventspils Nafta's share price, meanwhile, stood firm at 0.65 lats amid very low turnover. There is neither demand nor supply for the shares at this level and investors are simply taking a wait and see approach. On the one hand, bad news for Ventspils Nafta is still arriving from Russia, with talk of successful operations at the Primorsk terminal.
At the same time, Russia has considerably increased fuel and other oil products exports recently, and it is clear a significant part of that export may be handled through Ventspils.
As regards the secondary list stocks, the distillery Latvijas Balzams rose 2.8 percent to 0.37 lats on a 5,800 lat turnover, while the fiberglass company Valmieras Stikla Skiedra fell 3.6 percent to 0.53 lats amid a 38,000 lat turnover. Interest in Valmieras Stikla Skiedra is linked to the expected shareholders' meeting, while interest in Latvijas Balzams is fueled by plans by its owners to increase investment.
Lithuania: Gas and telecoms dominate
Blue chip Lietuvos Telekomas and natural gas company Lietuvos Dujos led trade on the Lithuanian stock exchange last week, generating 63 percent of the total central market activity. The bourse's benchmark price index Litin-10 rose 3.04 percent to 1,164.40; the blue chip index Litin edged up 0.38 percent to 316.65, and the broad index Litin-G was up by 2.25 percent to 866.54. Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List shares gained 2.76 percent to close at 144.71.
The week's equity turnover reached 4.37 million litas ($1.09 million), of which 2.12 million litas, or 49 percent of the total, was generated by Baltic List securities trading.
Listed on the official list, Telekomas generated a turnover of 1.19 million litas. Its share price bounced between 1.21 litas and 1.23 litas, firming at 1.22 litas by the weekend, though unchanged for the week. Having posted high trading volumes during the first days of the week, Telekomas later faced a gradual decline and reached trade of only 8,800 litas on Jan. 11.
Lietuvos Dujos jumped into focus on Jan. 9, when it rose to 2.05 litas. The stock weakening somewhat towards the end of the week to 2 litas, still a substantial rise of 16.28 percent. Brokers said Lietuvos Dujos' share price is determined by larger investors, related to the company's privatization, while small investors find they lack a voice in any decisions made.