Market roundup

The Malta Stock Exchange Equity price index inched up, following on the previous day’s positive performance. In general all equities performed well, except for a couple. The biggest gains came from Global Capital and Malta International Airport with over 2%, followed by Malta Properties Company and Simonds Farsons Cisk at 1.94% and 1.27% respectively.

European markets closed in mixed on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged. The Governing Council of the ECB said it expects the key interest rates to remain at their present levels "at least through the summer of 2019."

Meanwhile in trade developments, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that a trade deal with China is still "miles and miles" away. "We would like to make a deal but it has to be a deal that will work for both parties. We’re miles and miles from getting a resolution," he stated.

The DAX finished 0.53% in the green as Infineon soared 6.43%. In Paris, the CAC 40 jumped 0.65% at the close with semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics surging over 10% as the top performer. The FTSE 100 lost 0.35% as Vodafone fell 3.50%.

Tech side

Technology stocks performed in the green, led by suppliers of semiconductors, after South Korean Invest Chosun reported on Samsung's potential interest in NXP Semiconductors NV. The Eindhoven-based chipmaker spiked with the news to $82.98 per share, the highest mark since December 4.

Nvidia rallied 5.41% to $157.36 per share and AMD surged 4.8% to $20.75. Western Digital outperformed for the day, skyrocketing 7.89% to $40.59 per share. However, Qualcomm tumbled 1.6% to $50.94 per share. The company has given up on a deal to take over NXP after a regulatory hurdle in China and amid the dispute between the most populous nation and the United States about national security issues in technology transfers, but also intellectual property and trade.

Auto industry

Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa hinted that he will soon step down from the position. Although he did not specify that he made a final decision about the departure, he pointed out that he wants to deal with the company's governance issues before "passing the baton to the next leader." When asked if he has concerns about personal consequences for failing to see and report former chairman Carlos Ghosn's alleged financial wrongdoing, the executive said that it is crucial to focus on the company's issues first and deal with personal consequences later.

Meanwhile in Germany, automaker Volkswagen is in discussions with the United States government over avoiding Washington's levies on car imports. The company sees the slowing demand in China as a "big concern," due to uncertainties regarding trade challenges in the relationship between Beijing and Washington. Chief Executive Herbert Diess said that demand in China could still "grow slightly," expressing hope that the trade war would end with a deal between two countries.