Stocks skittish as economy slows down

The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange lost ground yesterday as investors were concerned about a slowdown in the economy after the government released data for the year.

The VN-Index of 170 companies and four closed-end funds dropped 0.6 percent to close at 302.19 points. Of its members, 57 advanced, 82 declined and 31 remained unchanged.

The government said the economy expanded at the slowest pace in nine years because of the global recession.

Gross domestic product rose just 6.23 percent in 2008 after a record 8.5 percent last year, according to a statement published on the government’s website late yesterday. It was the slowest rate since the economy grew 4.77 percent in 1999.

The trade deficit widened to a record high this year, boosted by stronger imports of equipment for projects such as the country’s first oil refinery.

The gap expanded to $17 billion, compared with $14.1 billion a year earlier, according to preliminary figures from the General Statistics Office. Exports rose 29.5 percent to $62.91 billion and imports climbed 27.5 percent to $79.92 billion.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corp. (ITA) lost VND300, or 1.1 percent, to close at VND26,200. The HCMC-based company received approval from the exchange to list an additional 17,245,034 shares. The new shares will start trading on December 31.

Traphaco Joint Stock Co. (TRA) rose VND500, or 1.3 percent, to VND40,000. Chairwoman Vu Thi Thuan bought 18,720 shares to increase her holding from 1.26 percent to 1.5 percent.

Savimex Corp. (SAV) gained VND300, or 2.2 percent, to close at VND13,700. Major shareholder Vietnam Property Holding increased its stake in the company from 13.25 percent to 14.27 percent through the purchase of 101,000 shares, the exchange said today.

Vietnam Italy Steel Joint Stock Co. (VIS) lost VND1,000, or 4.2 percent, to finish at VND23,000. Song Da Urban & Industrial Zone Investment & Development Joint-Stock Co., a construction firm known as SUDICO, cut its holding in the company to 29.43 percent from 29.82 percent.

Reported by Thieu Gia

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