Stock markets reacted negatively on Feb. 21 to the Government's announcement that it would lower credit growth targets this year from 23 percent to just 18-19 percent.

The nation's two major cities also released preliminary February inflation figures on the day, with Hanoi posting a one-month increase in consumer prices at a whopping 1.98 percent. HCM City was only a tick behind, with prices rising at a rate of 1.61 percent over January's levels.

On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index reacted to the news by plunging back below the psychological barrier of 500 points to end the session at 483.68, a loss of 20.24 points or over 4 percent from the previous trading day’s close on Feb. 18.

The volume of trades, meanwhile, soared to 50.4 million shares.

About 200 listed stocks and fund certificates saw substantial losses, including blue chips Hoa Phat Group (HPG), Bao Viet Holding (BVH), software producer FPT, and Masan Group (MSN). Banking stocks suffered the biggest losses, losing an average of over 4 percent of their value.

Only seven shares managed gains, including seafood processor Camimex (CMX), up 4.4 percent; LIX Detergent (LIX), up 3.6 percent; and Cuong Thuan Development & Investment (CTI), up 2.8 percent.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index plummeted by 5.6 percent to 96.58 points, while the volume of trades skyrocketed by 28.6 percent over Feb. 18 to over 36 million shares. The northern market saw 298 losers, nearly 60 hitting the floor, while only 17 shares posted gains.

Nguyen Quang Minh, an analyst with a Hanoi-based financial institution, said that economic news had had a great impact on securities trading – especially word of tightened credit growth targets, because the change would have a significant impact on the amount of capital available for securities investment. /.