Shares plunged yesterday on both of the nation's stock exchanges, with worries over rampant inflation plaguing the markets.

On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index declined by 0.84 percent to close at 481.91.

The value of trades rose 34 percent over the previous day but remained meagre at just 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD). Volume increased by 37 percent to 40.6 million shares.

A few blue chips posted gains, including Kinh Bac City Development (KBC), which rose 2.1 percent; Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), up 1.5 percent; and PetroVietnam Finance (PVF), up 0.8 percent.

Saigon Securities Inc (SSI) was the most-active share in HCM City, with 2.4 million traded, but lost 2.8 percent of its value to close at 31,300 VND (1.50 USD) per share.

Cautious sentiment of investors continued to dominate the market, said Bao Viet Securities Co analyst Nguyen Duc Thi, who believed that the greatest risk this month remained soaring inflation in the run-up to Tet (Lunar New Year). He predicted market fluctuations throughout the month.

"The VN-Index is expected to break out of its rut once the consumer price index (CPI) shows signs of slowing down," Thi said.

Analysts with Viet Star Securities Co agreed buyers were cautious about high inflation, while potential sellers were holding onto shares in light of positive economic forecasts predicting solid growth in the coming months.

"The market has left a difficult year behind and current prices already reflect most of the economic issues," they said.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index lost nearly 2 percent to end yesterday's session at 111.16 points. The volume of trades rose by 24 percent over the previous day to 28.6 million shares, but value remained a modest 550.3 billion VND (26.2 million USD).

Advancers outnumbered decliners by 234-56, with none of the 10 leading shares by capitalisation posting gains.

Hanoi Housing Bank (HBB) became the most-active stock nationwide with 2.9 million traded. HBB declined by 3.5 percent, however, to close at 11,200 VND (0.55 USD) per share.

Ben Thanh Services Co (BSC) and Seagull Shipping Co (SSG) both debuted on the northern bourse yesterday, and both closed their first trading day higher. BSC closed at 11,000 VND (0.52 USD) on a volume of 8,000 shares exchanged and SSG at 15,000 VND (0.71 USD) on a volume of 15,000 shares.

Foreign investors continued as net buyers on both exchanges yesterday, picking up a net total of almost 2 million shares worth over 73 billion VND (3.5 million USD)./.