Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but as soon as Dragon Capital director Dominic Scriven said this week that it was too early to expect a sustained rally, the nation's stock market on Mar. 16 began to show instability.

Shares in Hanoi extended the rally from the previous day, albeit at a slower rate, but HCM City stocks lost ground in the final minutes of morning trading and then continued to slip until the end of the afternoon session.

On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index closed off by 0.75 percent to 438.52 points. The VN30 Index, which tracks the exchange's 30 top stocks, declined by an even more substantial 1.2 percent to end the day at 496.87 points.

The value of trades reached about 1.84 trillion VND (87.6 million USD) on a volume of 113.6 million shares.

Major blue chips retreated, with Vietinbank (CTG), real estate developer Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG), steelmaker Hoa Phat (HPG), Phu My Fertilisers (DPM) and financial conglomerate Ocean Group (OCG) all bottoming out – even with some supporting information about some of these shares reaching the market.

International credit ratings agency Moody's on Mar. 16 gave Vietinbank a "stable" outlook, while Hoa Phat Group reported that it led the steel market last month, producing 60,000 tonnes and accounting for 15 percent of the construction steel segment.

Insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH) and food processor Kinh Do (KDC) bucked the overall downward trend and rose to their ceiling prices, while Sacombank (STB) claimed the spot as the most active share on the southern bourse with around 11 million traded.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index closed up 0.8 percent to 72.76 points. With trades totalling about 1.1 trillion VND (52.4 million USD), however, the northern bourse saw a 25.7-percent decline in volume from the previous day's session.

Kim Long Securities Co (KLS) surpassed Habubank (HBB) to become the most-active share with 14.8 million exchanged. HBB and PetroVietnam Construction Co (PVX) also surged to volumes in excess of 10 million, with all three stocks reaching their ceiling prices.

Foreign investors sold heavily in Hanoi but were net buyers in HCM City. Approximately 500 million USD in foreign investment has been poured into the domestic stock market so far this year.-VNA