Blue chips plunged in the closing minutes of Dec. 22's session, dragging down indices on both of the nation's stock exchanges, as newly released data showed the full-year pace of inflation had exceeded the Government's targets and this week's hike to electricity rates fanned expectations of higher inflation next month.

The inflation rate for the year was officially pegged at 18.12 percent, with the Ministry of Planning and Investment admitting on Dec. 22 that higher electricity costs and air fares are likely to further drive up the consumer price index in January.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh also predicted on Dec. 22 that the global economy will continue to cope with a lot of difficulties next year, with inescapable impacts on the domestic economy./.

"The State Bank of Vietnam will continue tightened monetary policies in the coming year, ensuring credit growth ranges from 15 to 17 percent," Ninh said.

"This is really bad news for the market at this point," commented Kim Eng Securities Co analyst Nguyen Thanh Lam. "The two benchmark indices are now approaching their support levels but about to break them."

On the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange Dec. 22, decliners outnumbered advancers by four-to-one with over 60 percent of decliners dropping to their floor prices, helping erase all of the gains seen in the VN-Index on the previous day. The Index closed at 360.37, a loss of 2 percent from the previous session.

Large-cap shares like insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), Phu My Fertilisers (DPM), property developer Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG), steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG), PetroVietnam Finance and Vietcombank (VCB) were all among the stocks plunging by 5 percent.

Among the 10 leading shares by capitalisation, only real estate developer Vincom (VIC) and Sacombank (STB) bucked the trend, with VIC rising to its ceiling price and STB gaining 1.3 percent. STB was the market's most-active share, with over 2.1 million traded.

The overall value of trades on the HCM City market on Dec. 22 plunged by 36 percent to just 787.6 billion VND (37.5 million USD), while volume eased by 2 percent from the previous day to 46 million shares.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index lost nearly 2.3 percent of its value to close at 58.42 points, with losers overwhelming gainers by 188-45.

However, the value of trades soared 54 percent to 322.9 billion VND (15.4 million USD), while volume also spiked by nearly 52 percent to 36.6 million shares.

Shares attractive to speculative investors, such as Kim Long Securities (KLS), VNDirect Securities (VND) and Bao Viet Securities (BVS), all dropped to their floor prices, even as KLS claimed the position as most-active share nationwide with nearly 4 million traded.

Foreign investors were net buyers on both bourses by a combined margin of 52 billion VND (2.5 million USD) after massive buys of VIC shares./.