Solid first-half earnings from more listed companies are once again expected to attract the attention of investors in the coming week and save the market from steeper losses.

Blue chips which last week reported positive results, including software producer FPT, Vietinbank (CTG), Phu My Fertilisers (DPM) and steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG), all saw gains on the HCM Stock Exchange last week, helping cushion the decline of the VN-Index.

The Index lost just 0.86 percent of its value over the course of the week, closing on July 29 at 405.7.

This was despite sluggish trades and an average daily value that reached only 371 billion VND (18 million USD), with an average volume of 21 million shares.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange last week, the HNX-Index declined by a more substantial 1.89 percent from the previous week to close July 29's session at 69.55 points.

Trading remained turgid throughout the week, with the daily trading value averaging just over 196 billion VND (nearly 10 million USD) on a volume of nearly 18 million shares.

In the coming week, Ministry of Finance Circular No 74 will take effect, allowing a single investor to open multiple trading accounts with one brokerage and buy and sell the same securities in the course of a single trading day.

By making lawful a practice that has already been taking place in the shadows, the circular is expected to improve market transparancey as well as facilitate investment.

Investors continue, however, to wait on the State Securities Commission to issue a guiding regulation on margin trading, which may be released as early as this week.

The vice chairwoman of the commission, Vu Thi Kim Lien, admitted that the market was undergoing a difficult period in which both benchmark stock indices have fallen precipitously and investor confidence has eroded substantially.

In the current context of unstable economic conditions, including high inflation, investors were likely to abandon the market and put idle capital into banks, where it can earn stable returns, or in a potentially high-return investment like gold, Lien said.

National Financial Supervisory Committee Vice Chairman Le Xuan Nghia also likened the current stock market to a bazaar filled with cheap merchandise that nobody wanted to purchase.

Nghia expressed concern that many investment funds established during the market's go-go period of 2005-07 – funds representing investment of up to 30 trillion VND (1.45 billion USD) – would pull these investments out of the market within the next two years.

"If current market conditions persist, investment funds withdraw, and economic conditions don't improve, the existence of the stock market itself will be jeopardised," Nghia warned.

To avoid such an outcome, a number of market watchers have called on the Government to take drastic measures to sustain the stock market, e.g., by allowing banks to once again lend to securities investors (especially larger banks more able to deal with the heavier risks involved in such lending).

In a sign of continued foreign interest in the domestic stock market, foreign investors concluded last week as net buyers on both national exchanges, picking up a combined 153 billion VND (7.4 million USD) worth of shares – with Friday marking their 16th consecutive net-buy session.

FPT was the most heavily favoured share by foreign investors, who bought up a net buy of 105 billion VND (5 million USD) worth of FPT shares last week. However, foreign investors unloaded 23 billion VND (1.1 million USD) worth of shares in real estate developer Vincom (VIC)./.