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Soaring Latvian shares push up Baltic index

  • 2002-03-28
  • Boris Epsteins
Latvia's stock market last week unexpectedly emerged as the trading volume leader for the Baltic states.

A steep rise from the country's blue chip stocks pushed up the Baltic index of the 13 most capitalized stocks in the Baltic states - despite losses posted by Estonian shares.

The index climbed 1.66 percent over the week to 158.48, just a little below the index's highest-ever level.

Only four stocks on the Baltic List posted losses. Of these Eesti Telekom and the television tube maker Ekranas fell by more than 4 percent.

Eight stocks, meanwhile, gained in value with Latvian stocks up by an average of 8 percent.

But Baltic List capitalization shrank 0.6 percent to 2.85 billion euros ($2.5 billion) on losses posted by Eesti Telekom and Hansapank, despite the Latvian gains.

The Baltic List turnover more than doubled to 12.11 million euros, up from 5.75 million euros a week earlier. Estonian stocks contributed over 69 percent of the list's turnover, with Latvian shares accounting for 25 percent.

Prices moved lower in slack trading on the Tallinn Stock Exchange; regarding the blue chip shares, Eesti Telekom was the worst performer. It lost 6 percent of its value.

The TALSE index dropped 2.51 percent to 172.51. Calculated in euros, the price index of the five Estonian Baltic List shares fell 0.38 percent to 147.91.

The total turnover from 475 deals came to 135 million kroons ($7.6 million). Baltic List stocks contributed 97 percent of this turnover, or 131 million kroons.

"That the week ended in negative territory may be an indication that the upward trend is coming to a halt," Trigon Markets trader Kaur Elviste said.

Hansapank lost 1.36 percent of its value to close at 204.50, its third week of losses this year. Its turnover, at 113.3 million kroons, made up 84 percent of the total turnover of the stock exchange.

Last week was one of the most successful for the Riga Stock Exchange, both in terms of stock trade and increase of bourse indexes. Trade was boosted by the news that Finland's Helsinki Stock Exchange has offered to buy more than 75 percent of shares in the RSE from current shareholders.

All Latvian bourse indexes posted significant gains over the week.

The DJRSE capitalization index shot up 7.47 percent, in lats, to 172.6, and the RICI price index swelled 3.86 percent to 186.78.

The Baltic List's Latvian stock price index, as calculated in euros, also shot up, by 7.62 percent to 227.14.

The stock turnover on the Riga bourse amounted to 1.8 million lats ($2.8 million) with Baltic List shares contributing 1.7 million lats in turnover, or 96 percent of the total weekly stock trade.

The natural gas company Latvijas Gaze was the market leader by trading volume. The stock gained 7.15 percent to 5.39 lats on trading of 1.67 million lats.

The oil terminal Ventspils Nafta rose 9.5 percent to 0.69 lats on trade worth 13,000 lats.

The market makers are awaiting announcement of the privatization of state-owned shares in the company.

Trading on the Lithuanian stock exchange remained lackluster last week. Blue chip Lietuvos Telekomas was the best performer on the central market, rising to its highest level since August of last year and generating a substantial turnover.

Other stocks were largely neglected.

The bourse's benchmark Litin-10 price index ticked up 0.25 percent to 1,148.48, the blue chip Litin index rose 1.23 percent to 350.65, and the broad Litin-G index was up 1.06 percent to 965 points.

Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List stocks gained 0.51 percent, closing at 144.4.

Due to the large amount of block deals the week's equity turnover reached 15.3 million litas ($3.9 million), with Baltic List turnover amounting to just 2.5 million litas, 16 percent of the total.

Listed on the blue chip official list, Lietuvos Telekomas rose 2.17 percent to 1.41 litas on a turnover of 547,500 litas. Telekomas' shares were last quoted at this level on Aug. 9, 2001.

Market participants said the size of buy orders for Telekomas' shares showed they came from foreign investors attracted by a good share price and the chance to get sound dividends.

On the secondary current list, shipping companies were in focus, as usual. LISCO Baltic Service firmed at 0.38 litas with 200,200 litas' worth of shares traded, while the maritime transport company Klaipedos Transporto Laivynas skidded 4.88 percent to 0.39 litas amid a turnover of 183,800 litas.

Some 123,127 shares in Lithuania's Zemes Ukio Bankas, representing 11.37 percent of the bank's share capital, changed hands via a single block deal worth 10.62 million litas in total. The shares traded at 86.28 litas each, below their nominal value of 95 litas. The seller was the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The buyer was the German bank Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, which last week acquired a 76.01 percent stake from the state.