Shares on the nation's stock exchanges declined last week as speculative trades, discouraging economic data, and mixed third-quarter earnings results from listed companies took their toll, a trend expected to continue into the new trading week.

In figures released last week, inflation rose nationwide by a rate of 18.16 percent in the first nine months of the year, although it showed signs of slowing on a month-to-month basis, rising by just 0.2 percent in Hanoi during September and 0.88 percent in HCM City .

The rise in consumer prices has shown signs of decelerating and the Ministry of Finance announced last week that it was determined to keep fuel prices stabilised towards the end of the year, but heavy profit-taking after a recent rally drove down indices on both of the nation's stock exchanges, said FPT Securities Co analyst Le Thi Bich Hang.

Sharp declines on world markets last week also weighed heavily on the confidence of investors on Vietnam's market, Hang said, noting disappointment with the US Federal Reserve's failure last week to adopt stronger stimulus measures.

Standard and Poor's also cut Italy 's sovereign credit rating last week from A+ to A, with a negative outlook, making it the sixth country in the eurozone it has downgraded this year. Meanwhile, the threat of a second recession loomed larger, as the IMF lowered growth forecasts for both the US and Europe, estimating a US growth rate of just 1.5 percent this year, and growth in Europe of just 1.6 percent.

In response to the discouraging news, the VN-Index lost 3.67 percent over the course of last week, closing on Sept. 23at 440.30 points. The average daily value of trades on the HCM Stock Exchange declined by 20 percent from the previous week to 940.4 billion VND (45.2 million USD), while the average daily volume of trades fell by 37 percent to about 45.3 million shares.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, meanwhile, the HNX-Index also slid by 0.39 percent over the course of the week, closing on Sept. 23 at 74.58. Daily volumes and values each plunged by 40 percent, averaging 40.6 million shares persession for a value of 463 billion VND (37.9 million USD).

Blue chips were the biggest losers of the week. The VS-Large Cap index, which tracks money flows into large-cap stocks, declined by 5.75 percent, led by steep declines in shares of insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), food producer Masan Group (MSN) and real estate developer Vincom (VIC).

With penny stocks also losing value, mid-cap stocks were the market's only gainers during the week, with the VS-Mid Cap index rising by 0.65 percent.

Foreign investors continued to be net sellers on both stock exchanges last week, unloading a combined 134.2 billion VND (6.5 million USD) worth of shares.

This week, investors were expected to turn their focus increasingly on third-quarter earnings reports. Analysts with the financial newswire said that earnings securities companies, real estate developers and shipping companies were all expected to slow from previous reporting periods.

"Grey will likely continue to be the primary colour for business profits since the business environment is hardly changing," they wrote. /.