Baltic bourses mixed in third quarter

  • 1999-10-07
Share prices took a beating in Estonia and Latvia in the third
quarter, with the best news for the period being an invitation to
begin membership talks with the NOREX Alliance of Scandinavian
bourses. The Lithuanian exchange continues to look the best of the
three Baltic bourses thanks to the strong rise of the Litin-10 index,
by 21 percent, over the first nine months.

The official list Litin index was down 1.05 percent during the same
period. The difference was due mostly to the stellar rise in Ukio
Bankas' share price, which is not included on the official list. The
Litin was up a modest 4.74 percent during the third quarter, while
the Litin-10 jumped up 24.1 percent.

The biggest loser, in terms of both share price and turnover, is the
Riga Stock Exchange. For the nine months the DJRSE index has plunged
28.78 percent, with the RICI down 18.65 percent. During the third
quarter the DJRSE slumped by 15.1 percent, while the RICI slipped 6.8

After a strong first quarter rise, the Tallinn Stock Exchange's TALSE
index has been sliding. The index dropped 10.7 percent during the
third quarter. For the nine months it is still up 9.3 percent.

In neighboring Russia share prices are up 40 percent -50 percent
since the beginning of the year despite a sharp fall in the third

Alliance with NOREX

The main event for the Baltic bourses in the third quarter was the
invitation by NOREX, at the end of September, to join the alliance of
Scandinavian bourses. The reaction of local securities market
participants varies. On the one hand many consider it an unmitigated
plus, as membership in NOREX would help foreign capital flow into the
Baltic markets.

On the other hand, Western investors are unlikely to show interest in
more than five to ten stocks on each market, with the remaining
stocks possibly becoming even more illiquid. And despite the fact the
bourses would retain their legal independence in the NOREX Alliance,
nobody doubts the practical insignificance of this if the tiny Baltic
bourses join the much bigger Scandinavian markets.

Brokerages would likely take a big hit as few local trading houses
would be able to compete with their Scandinavian counterparts, though
the added competition is nonetheless not an altogether bad thing for
the markets here.

Last week's market activity

Last week stock prices slid on all three Baltic markets, with the
steepest fall recorded in Estonia.

In Latvia both of the Riga indexes continued their slide into record
low territory on low daily turnover, which last week barely exceeded
30,000 dollars on average.

In Lithuania the fall would have been sharper if not for Hermis'
share price holding steady at 120 litas ($30) and Ukio Bankas' share
price continuing to rally with shares bought by a still unknown
foreign investor.