Investors watch a trading board at FPT Securities Corp. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnamese shares struggled to remain positive on June 21, although investors remained upbeat ahead of Britain’s vote on the country’s membership of the European Union, energy stocks suffered from lower oil prices.

The benchmark VN Index on the HCM Stock Exchange finished at 628.00 points, up 0.3 percent from June 20, and extended a two-day gain of 1.4 percent.

The HNX Index on the Hanoi Stock Exchange was choppy on June 21, rising 0.2 percent to close at 84.50 points. The northern index has increased by 0.7 percent in the last two sessions.

Investor confidence remained high on June 21 on expectations that British voters will decide to stay in the European Union on June 23, local media reported.

The market’s expectations helped ease the US dollar on global exchanges and encouraged Vietnam’s central bank to reduce its daily reference mid-point rate for foreign exchange trading band by 15 VND to 21,848 VND for a dollar.

A lower trading rate between the Vietnamese dong and the dollar trigged higher net foreign purchase, lifting blue chips on both local exchanges.

Foreign investors recorded a net buying of 102.4 billion VND (4.55 million USD), an increase of more than one-third from previous day’s figure.

On the southern market, dairy firm Vinamilk (VNM) rose 1.5 percent, property and retail firm Vingroup JSC (VIC) was up 0.9 percent, insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH) gained 0.8 percent and Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank (STB) advanced 1.8 percent.

On the northern exchange, large-cap stocks that made gains included Vicostone JSC (VCS), Tien Phong Plastic JSC (NTP), insurer PVI Holdings (PVI) and Vietnam Construction and Import-Export JSC (VCG). These shares added between 0.4 percent and 1.9 percent.

Steel producer Hoa Phat Group (HPG) increased by 2.1 percent on expectations that the company will record better performance in the second quarter. HPG has jumped 16 percent in the past three weeks.

On the opposite side, energy stocks slid as oil prices retreated from a two-day increase. US crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell 1.2 percent to trade at 48.77 USD a barrel, and London-traded Brent crude dropped 1.3 percent to trade at nearly 50 USD a barrel.

Among local energy stocks, PetroVietnam Gas Corp (GAS) was down 1.6 percent, PetroVietnam Coating Corp (PVB) and PetroVietnam Mud Drilling Corp (PVC) slipped 2.6 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Both local markets exchanged more than 185 million shares, worth 3.5 trillion VND – up 35 percent from previous day’s trading value.-VNA