The VN-Index retreated by nearly a percentage point on Feb. 16 to close at 513.11 points, reversing the previous day's moderate gains on the HCM Stock Exchange.

The volume of trades fell 12.5 percent from Feb. 15 to just 30 million shares, worth over 748.5 billion VND (35.6 million USD).

Losers outnumbered gainers by 3-1, with most blue chips posting losses. Among the 10 leading shares by capitalisation, only conglomerate Masan Group (MSN) saw gains.

PetroVietnam Finance (PVF) fell to its floor price, while Vietinbank (CTG) declined by 3.1 percent. Property developer Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAG) lost 2.7 percent, Phu My Fertilisers (DPM) 1.8 percent, and Eximbank (EIB) 0.7 percent.

Only four codes surprised the market and hit their ceiling prices on the day, without any supporting information. These included Construction Company Chuong Duong Co (CDC), Information and Networking Technology (CMT), telecom Ngo Han Co (NHW) and the Viet Nam Active Fund (VFMVFA).

Saigon Securities Inc (SSI) became the most-active share, with nearly 1.8 million traded, with sales by foreign investors accounting for about 25 percent of the total, driving SSI down 2.1 percent to a close of 28,600 VND (1.35 USD) per share.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index also declined by more than 1 percent to 105.49 points. The value of trades fell 18 percent to just 371.2 billion VND (17.7 million USD), with a volume of less than 20 million shares.

Decliners outnumbered gainers by 189-93.

Stocks of securities companies, with volumes of over a million shares per code, were the most active shares on the Hanoi bourse, but most declined slightly, with the exception of Bao Viet Securities (BVS), which closed up 2.16 percent.

Foreign investors returned to being net buyers on the HCM City market, after four consecutive sessions as net sellers, but continued to be net sellers in Hanoi . On both bourses combined, they picked up an overall net of 15.2 billion VND (722,000 USD) worth of shares.

With February inflation figures expected to be released next week, investors were waiting for clearer signals before investing more actively, said Bao Viet Securities Co analyst Nguyen Duc Thi./.