The VN-Index erased earlier gains in the final minutes of Feb. 24's trading on the HCM City Stock Exchange to close at 423.43, essentially unchanged from the previous session. By the end of the morning, however, advancers still outnumbered decliners by nearly two-to-one.

February inflation data was released, showing a hefty rise of 1.37 percent over the previous month, belying a number of positive assessments by analysts on the possible easing of inflationary pressures and prospects for the market.

The value of trades on the HCM City bourse rose by about 16 percent over the previous session's level to a total of 1.1 trillion VND (52.3 million USD), while the volume of trades reached 78.5 million shares.

The VN30 Indes, which tracks the exchange's 30 best stocks, outperformed the VN-Index, adding 0.3 percent over the previous day's session to close at 477.77 points.

Blue chips weighed on the market overall, with seven of the 10 leading shares by capitalisation declining by 0.5-2.6 per cent. Notably, Sacombank (STB) reversed its recent decline amid takeover rumours and soared to its ceiling price, following a State Bank of Vietnam statement that Sacombank was still operating normally.

"The sources of the rumours will be investigated, and sanctions will be authorised," said the central bank.

The central bank also authorised Sacombank to achieve credit growth this year of 17 percent, the maximum allowed rate under Circular No 01.

"The assigned credit growth is consistent with our target this year," a Sacombank representative said.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index edged up by 0.4 percent to 67.07 points. The value of trades rose 17.4 percent compared to the previous day to 736.8 billion VND (35 million USD), while volume totalled 86.2 million shares. Gainers overwhelmed losers by 200-82.

Habubank (HBB) was the most-active nationwide, with 14.2 million shares traded. HBB rose to its ceiling price.

Foreign investors marked their 20th consecutive session as buyers on the HCM City bourse, picking up a net of 100.8 billion VND (4.8 million USD) worth of shares. The were net sellers in Hanoi , however, unloading a net of 17.9 billion VND (850,000 USD) worth of shares./.