Declining blue chips late in the trading session on the HCM Stock Exchange on Feb. 28 pushed the VN-Index down to just 461.37 points – a decline of 1.2 percent from Friday's close – erasing gains made by shares during most of the session.

Shares of insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH) and PetroVietnam Finance (PVF) plunged to their floor prices despite strong earlier gains.

"Market prospects in the short term are negative," said an analyst, pointing to rising inflationary pressures and business costs to be brought on by last week's fuel price hike and this week's increase in electricity rates.

"Tightening credit growth will also likely keep interest rates high, and the Government's order to restrict credit in non-production sectors, such as securities investment, will further slow the flow of capital into the stock market, said the an analyst with a Hanoi-based securities company who asked to remain anonymous.

By the end of the day, decliners had outnumbered advancers on the HCM City market by 152-73.

The value of trades, meanwhile, increased by about 17 percent over the previous session to nearly 768.6 billion VND (36.6 million USD), while the volume of trades rose 20 percent to nearly 34.3 million shares.

Among the 10 leading shares by capitalisation, Hoa Phat Group (HPG) closed down 3.9 percent while FPT, Hoang Anh Gia Lai Co (HAG), Phu My Fertilisers and Sacombank (STB) all declined by over 2 percent.

Only Vietinbank (CTG) and conglomerate Masan Group (MSN) bucked the declining trend, largely due to heavy foreign buys. Foreign investors accounted for nearly 85 percent or 50.7 billion VND (2.4 million USD) worth of total transactions in CTG shares alone.

Saigon Securities Inc (SSI), with 2.3 million shares changing hands, was the most-active share on the southern bourse, but it also closed down 3.2 percent to 24,400 VND (1.15 USD) per share.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index also fell by 1.48 percent to close at 95.92. The value of trades reached only 506.8 billion VND (24.1 million USD) on a volume of about 32 million shares, a decline of 14 percent in both value and volume.

Losers outnumbered gainers by 181-100.

Kim Long Securities (KLS) was the most heavily traded share on the northern bourse with 2.3 million shares changing hands. KLS rose 0.8 percent to close at 13,400 VND (0.65 USD).

Foreign investors were net buyers overall on Feb. 28 of 23.5 billion VND (1.1 million USD) worth of shares on both exchanges./.