Shares finished slightly lower on the Ho Chi Minh City Exchange on March 18 due to large scale profit booking despite significant capital inflow, while the shares gained on the Hanoi Exchange.

The VN-Index dropped 0.51 points, or as much as 0.08 percent, to finish at 599.85 points after posting gains for nine consecutive days.

After the announcement of key interest rate cuts, which came into effect since March 18, investors' confidence strongly improved and more than 205 million shares successfully changed hands with a total value of 3.8 trillion VND (180 million USD). This also helped prevent the benchmark index from suffering a bigger loss on March 18.

On the southern bourse, 136 codes increased on March 18, while 105 codes lost value.

Among the blue chips, although losers outnumbered gainers by 17-12, the VN30-Index, comprising the largest stocks by capitalisation and liquidity, advanced 0.46 percent to close at 639.73 points.

PetroVietnam Transportation Corporation (PVT) continued to push its ceiling price of 17,100 VND (0.8 USD) with a gain of 1,100 VND (0.052 USD) per share, following the Market Vectors Vietnam exchange-traded fund announcement that it would increase its holdings in the company during the fund's last week review of the investment list.

A total of 6.97 million shares of PVT were traded on March 18, ranking fifth among the top stocks by liquidity.

Big gainers also included technology FPT Group (FPT), Ocean Group (OGC), Hoa Phat Group (HPG), and PetroVietnam Drilling Corporation (PVD). Vinh Son Song Hinh Thermoelectric Company (VSH) was also among the major gainers on March 18.

Meanwhile, Vingroup (VIC), Vinamilk (VNM), Vietcombank (VCB), and Kinh Do (KDC) closed in the red as profit booking happened in these stocks. Bao Viet Group (BVH) also finished in the red due to profit booking.

More than 15.4 million shares of the Tan Tao Group (ITA) changed hands on March 18, topping the bourse by liquidity.

Shares on the Hanoi Stock Exchange maintained an upward trend on March 18. The HNX-Index added 1.29 points, or as much as 1.5 percent, to end at 87.6 points. The HNXFF-Index, comprising stocks with minimum free float rate of 5 percent ended the day at 87.79 points, rising 1.46 percent.

Very high liquidity was recorded in the market and investors injected nearly 1.45 trillion VND (69 million USD) into the market and more than 133 million shares exchanged hands.

Tracking the capital city's 30 largest stocks by capitalisation and liquidity, the HNX30-Index closed at 177.37 points, rising 1.31 percent.

PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corporation (PVX) led the southern bourse by liquidity as nearly 18.8 million of its shares changed hands on March 18.

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange on March 18 eliminated the stock of Petrolimex Export-Import Joint Stock Company (PIT) out of the VNSmallcap and VNSAllshare packages as the stock was put under control.-VNA