Stocks on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange declined for the first time in three days, bringing the benchmark VN-Index down from a more than four-year high as many traders offloaded local shares to lock in profit.

Many investors decided to take margins when the market gauge returned to the four-year high on fears of corrections, an individual analyst of FPTS Securities said.

The VN-Index slid 0.94 percent to end at 601.85 points on March 25.

The southern market lost its buoyancy due to strong profit-taking from foreign and domestic investors in the afternoon trading session, where 107 stocks advanced, 150 tumbled, 35 closed unchanged and 12 went untraded.

Trading value reached 5 trillion VND (241 million USD) out of a volume of 261 million shares, up 50 percent from the previous day.

The VN30-Index, tracking the southern city's top shares in capitalisation and liquidity, lost 6.57 points or 0.95 percent to end the day at 682.75 points.

Tan Tao Investment – Industry Corporation (ITA) remained the most active share with 20 million shares changing hands. It closed flat at 10,000 VND (48 US cents) per share.

FLC Group (FLC), second in market volume with 14.4 million shares changing hands, dove 4.5 percent to end at 15,000 VND. Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG) tumbled 3.4 percent to settle at 28,600 VND on trades of 7.6 million shares.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index declined for the first time in nine consecutive trading sessions, dragging the market index down from a three-year high, as traders offloaded local shares to take margins in the bullish market.

Many investors took advantage of the overoptimistic market sentiment to take profits. However, others saw the offloading as a chance to increase their holdings amid strong confidence in the current market uptrend, driven by solid cash flow.

The HNX-Index lost 2.01 percent to finish at 91.12 points with more than 147 million shares changing hands, worth 1,742 billion VND (82.9 million USD).

The HNX-30 Index, composed of the capital city's top shares, plunged 2.71 percent to 186.76 points.-VNA