Shares declined during the session on January 22 as profit-taking pressures rose.

Investors sold heavily as they turned wary of holding shares through the long Lunar New Year, or Tet, holiday. The Vietnamese stock market will be open for another three sessions before closing for the holiday.

However, the number of declining stocks was not much higher than the stocks showing increasing prices, thanks to upbeat profit announcements by several companies.

"In addition, the consumer price indices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were comparatively low (0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively), despite the approaching Tet holiday," noted ACB Securities Co's analyst Hoang Huy.

On the HCM City Stock Exchange, the VN-Index dropped 1.4 percent to 551.92 points. The VN30 Index also slid 1.3 percent to end at 626.04 points.

The selling pressure led to a 21.2 percent increase in the value of trades from January 21 to nearly 2.4 trillion VND (113.2 million USD) on a volume of 125.3 million shares.

Half of the 30 blue chips tracked by the VN30 Index retreated. The share price of steelmaker Hoa Phat (HPG) hit the daily lower price limit, while the share prices of private equity group Masan (MSN), Phu My Fertiliser (DPM), PetroVietnam Drilling Services (PVD) and property developer Vingroup (VIC) slumped 3.1 to 5.4 percent.

Foreign investors became net sellers on the HCM City bourse by a margin of 257.2 billion VND (13 million USD).

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index shed 0.2 percent to finish at 73.42 points.

Large-cap stocks sent the HNX30 Index down 0.16 percent to 144.29 points.

The trading value and volume were over 603.9 billion VND (28.48 million USD) and 60.36 million shares, respectively.

Foreign investors remained buyers on the northern bourse, purchasing a net value of shares worth 20.36 billion VND (960,370 USD).-VNA