Stocks continued rising on the HCM Stock Exchange on Jan. 12, but slid again on the Hanoi exchange as investors continued to hold onto cash in the lead-up to the Tet (lunar new year) holiday.

In HCM City , the VN-Index gained 0.2 percent to close at 348.11 points. The volume of trades dropped by 16 percent from the previous day’s level to just 24.4 million shares, worth just under 367 billion VND (17.5 million USD).

Three of the 10 leading shares by capitalisation hit their ceiling prices, including BVH, CTG and steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG). MSN also closed up 2.8 percent. These shares helped rescue the VN-Index from a fall, even as losers outnumbered gainers overall on the HCM City bourse by a margin of 132-82.

Sacombank (STB) continued to be the most-active share on the southern bourse, with 4.4 million traded. STB closed down 1.1 percent to 17,700 VND per share.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index declined by another 0.13 percent to finish on Jan. 12 at 55.81. Volume decreased by 30 percent to under 16.6 million shares, while the value of trades dropped 19 percent to 163.9 billion VND (7.8 million USD).

Decliners edged advancers by a margin 149-56, with nearly half of all decliners hitting the floor.

Kim Long Securities (KLS) and VNDirect Securities (VND), with over 1.5 million shares traded each, were again the most-active shares in Hanoi . VND lost 6.2 percent to close at 6,100 VND, while KLS finished 2.5 percent lower at 7,700 VND per share.

Foreign investors continued as net buyers on both markets, picking up more than 42.4 billion VND (2 million USD) worth of shares.

Despite the gloomy market, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Binh predicted capital flows will return to the market this year as current policies discouraged investments in foreign currencies, gold and real estate.

But he also denied the possibility of lower interest rates for the time being. "In addition to inflation, reducing interest rates depends on many factors including ensuring the liquidity of the banking system," Binh said. /.