The VN-Index plunged by 3.5 percent on May 23 to close at 417.82 points, a spine-chilling slide of 15 points and the lowest level of the Index in the past two years, raising alarm bells about ongoing sluggish trades on the HCM Stock Exchange.

Trang An Securities Co analyst Ngo Minh Duc pointed the finger at interest rates, with rates as high as 22 percent per year for loans to business in non-manufacturing sectors.

"As interest rates rise, investors begin to sell off non-manufacturing assets," Duc said.

Losers outnumbered gainers during the day's session by 206-34, with 111 codes dropping to their floor prices.

The value of trades saw a modest, 7-percent uptick, however, reaching 629 billion VND (30 million USD) on a volume of 32 million shares – a 20-percent increase in volume over the previous session on May 20.

The 10 leading shares by capitalisation mostly weighed on the Index, with six codes bottoming out, including insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), Vietinbank (CTG), software giant FPT (FPT), finance group Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG), food producer Masan Group (MSN) and PetroVietnam Finance (PVF).

Phu My Fertilisers (DPM) and real estate developer Vincom (VIC) both fell by around 2 percent, while only Eximbank (EIB) and Sacombank (STB) closed flat.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index also plummeted, shedding 3.2 percent of its value to close at just 74.5 points. The value of trades rose by 13 percent over May 20, however, to 355 billion VND (17 million USD), with 31 million shares changing hands.

Foreign investors continued as net sellers in HCM City and net buyers in Hanoi on May 23. On the southern bourse, they sold 3.7 million shares worth 135 billion VND (6.6 million USD), while they bought a net of just 2.8 billion VND (136,600 USD) worth of shares in Hanoi./.