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Pouring money into stocks: a new trend



The VN-Index set an all-time high record recently, reaching over 1,230 points and daily liquidity totaling around $1 billion.

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After nearly a decade of working hard, a couple living in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district – Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ha and her husband – accumulated several billion dong. They bought gold to save and the remaining amount was deposited at banks.

However, the “fever” for stocks in 2020, and stories told by Ha’s friends about their huge profits earned from investment in stocks within a short time, prompted Ha to change her thinking. After Tet 2021 (lunar New Year), Ha trialed the first investment in stocks and earned a profit of nearly 20% and the couple poured all their money into shares of banks, industrial estate and logistic firms.

Mr. Do Van Thanh, owner of a house for rent near Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital, quickly sold a large amount of gold that he had accumulated over the past decade to invest in stocks since late 2020. His current work is sitting on the first floor staring at the electronic board full of numbers and a few hundred stock codes.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Nguyen Hoang, the owner of a private enterprise, did not have many new plans to implement. His business is still running, but with fewer orders. Without expanding business, Hoang has spent several billion dong in stocks and he has earned quite a lot of profit in the past year.

Not only new domestic investors, but foreign capital has started to return to Vietnam, with the appearance of new foreign funds like Fubon Vietnam ETF. Following Korean and Japanese funds, Taiwanese investors have come to Vietnam.

A brokerage director of a securities company said that cash flow of new investors (F0) is still pouring into the market and their confidence is still great. Hundreds of thousands of new accounts are opened daily.

More than half million new players

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According to data from the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD), the number of new securities accounts of domestic individual investors opened in March 2021 hit a record with 113,191 accounts, far exceeding the number 86,107 in January. This figure is double the monthly average in 2020.

The number of new securities accounts (F0) in 2020 was equal to the total of the past 10 years. Each month there were about 50,000 new accounts and a total of about 600,00 new accounts for the whole year. There were about 1.5 million accounts in 2010, and 2.2 million accounts in early 2020, which means an increase of 700,000 in 10 years. But in a single year – 2020, the number of new accounts was up to 600,000, and 250,000 accounts for the first three months of 2021.

In the first days of the second quarter of 2021, the VN-Index set an all-time high record, passing 1,230 points and the daily liquidity reached around $1 billion.

So far this year, the stock market has witnessed a few tumbling sessions but it could not hinder new investors from pouring money into the market. New investors’ tastes are also varied. Many people focus on blue-chip stocks, the leading stocks in the market such as Vingroup, Hoa Phat, Vinamilk. But there are also many people who invested in stocks of small firms with low market prices.

Recently, new investors have shown interest in mid and small-cap stocks. For nearly two months, small and medium stocks became the support for the market. The prices of both good and bad stocks increased.

Hot cash flow risks

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Vietnam’s stock market is positive with a leading attractive P/E (price-to-earnings) ratio in the world, only about 18.8 times compared to 20-25 in Southeast Asia or 3x of US stock markets. Perhaps that is why, recently, foreign investors have come back to be net buyers. After restructuring, many funds have bought key stocks on the floor.

However, new domestic investors are still the key of the market, the main driving force for the stock market to rise recently and possibly in the near future.

Before the continuous price increase, many warnings were made when the P/E ratio increased from 11 times in early April 2020 to nearly 19 at present. This is said to be hot growth and risky. But like the fever 10 years ago, the warnings are for reference only.

It is estimated that 90 percent of the accounts are individual ones, of which up to 50 percent are new investors. The enthusiasm of new investors is a great force to push the market up.

With the current cash flow, from both new domestic investors and new investment funds, along with good signs from the economy, Vietnam’s stocks are forecasted to increase. Many forecast that the VN-Index will rise to 1,300 points or even 1,500 points.

But as a rule, after a period of warming up, there will be an uneasy time for new investors.

The macro-economy is entering a new phase. Once the monetary policy changes, the cash flow into the market is tightened, some other investment channels are more attractive… and the cash flow will be drawn out. The unstable and volatile sentiment of new investors along with the possibility of “call margin” when the stock price falls can lead to sell-off. This is what happened in the past.

M. Ha



Citizens, businesses hurt as rising prices raise inflation concerns



Citizens, businesses hurt as rising prices raise inflation concerns

A butcher cuts meat in a market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha.

Experts say the government will find it difficult to rein in inflation this year as surging food and materials prices hurt citizens and businesses.

Loan and her husband in HCMC’s District 5 spent around VND120,000- 200,000 ($5.22-8.70) per day last month on feeding their family of three, almost double that of the same time last year. They say the prices of vegetables and meat have been increasing since the beginning of the year.

Hoa, another HCMC resident, has seen her spending on family meals increase by 65 percent to VND5 million per month. She says the prices of cooking gas and many ingredients she needs have been rising.

“The prices of some products have doubled since the beginning of the year. I’m spending out of my savings.”

Ngoc Chau, head accountant for a construction company in Tan Binh District, has seen prices of a bowl of noodle soup rising nearly 20 percent to VND65,000 the past few months.

“I have been reluctant to eat out these days.”

In the first four months of this year, the prices of materials and ingredients have risen by 4.64 percent year-on-year, with the surge strongest in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector, up 6.77 percent, according to the General Statistics Office.

The GSO has cautioned that although inflation was 0.29 percent in the first quarter, the lowest in 20 years, keeping it under the targeted 4 percent this year won’t be easy as many economies including the U.S. have introduced economic stimuli to boost recovery.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that animal feed prices have surged 30 percent since the beginning of the year and is set to rise further in the second quarter.

Fuel prices, meanwhile, have increased by 19 percent since the beginning of the year.

Do Van Khuoi, director of supplies at Saigon Food, said that prices have been rising due to limited supply of goods domestically and shortage of materials globally.

There are signs that some suppliers are increasing their reserves to indulge in speculative pricing, he added.

“Disrupted supply chains due to difficulties in transporting goods amid the pandemic have also pushed up prices.”

Khuoi said that in recent months, the prices of spices have risen by 5-10 precent, rice and seafood by 5-20 percent and material for plastic production by 15-70 percent.

A spokesperson for food processor Vissan also said that many food companies were facing “headaches” because of rising material prices. Some suppliers have requested a 15 percent increase starting this month.

Most businesses say they are trying to look for alternative sources of materials and ingredients to lower prices.

Authorities have also been working to stabilize prices.

Pham The Anh, head economist of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), said that Vietnam and many other economies face high risks of rising inflation this year as prices of some products like steel and fuel have been surging at around 20-30 percent.

Economist Nguyen Duc Thanh said that authorities are facing difficulties in controlling inflation, as keeping prices low will hurt businesses which are already hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, while allowing prices to rise will hurt low-income people.

The domestic department market under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said it has been working with businesses to ensure adequate supply to keep prices from surging suddenly.

It has also been working with customs and agriculture authorities to ensure the stable delivery of goods, especially between localities with a high number of Covid-19 cases.

Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai has also ordered relevant government bodies to take keep fuel prices stable.


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Great opportunity for Vietnam’s semiconductor industry



The scarcity of chip supply that began in late 2020 has affected most manufacturing industries.

In 1970-1980, late professor Tran Dai Nghia cherished a plan to build a semiconductor industry in Vietnam. He ordered a production line of Thomson-CFS (the predecessor of Thales Group, France), but due to poor infrastructure, supporting industries and logistics at that time, his efforts were unable to deliver the desired results.

Later, Dr. Dang Luong Mo (a reputable Vietnamese scientist in the microchip field in the world) also gave many enthusiastic proposals and projects with the desire to build a foundation for the microchip industry in Vietnam, but the results were modest. However, his research works have contributed to opening a new direction for the fledgling microchip industry in Vietnam.

From the constantly increasing demand of the global supply chain, the semiconductor sector has become more exciting and has become a field that receives a lot of favor. When manufacturing industries slowed down due to the current shortage of microchip supply, new opportunities for Vietnam opened up, and the semiconductor industry is now forecast to enter a new “golden time”.

Semiconductors account for a large proportion in export turnover of high-tech goods.

In recent years, the Vietnamese electronics industry has grown into the country’s most important industry. The total export turnover of these commodity groups in 2020 amounted to US$95.8 billion, equal to one third of the total export turnover of Vietnam.

Currently, Vietnam ranks 9th globally in the field of electronics exports.

Statistics from the General Department of Customs show that, for 2020, exports of telephones and components reached $51.18 billion, a slight decrease of 0.4% compared to 2019. Of which, export revenue from China was $12.34 billion, up by 48.8%; the EU – $10.06 billion, down 18.6%; the US – $8.79 billion, down 1.2%; South Korea – $4.58 billion, down 11% from the previous year.

For computers, electronic products and components, the export value reached $44.58 billion last year, up 24.1% compared to 2019. Specifically, the Chinese market accounted for $11.09 billion, 16% increase compared to 2019; the US market with $10.39 billion, up by 71.7%; the EU with $6.51 billion, up 28.7%; Hong Kong – $4.19 billion, up 38.2%.

In December 2020 alone, the export value of mobile phones and components hit $4.61 billion, up 4.6% over the previous month. With an impressive growth rate of 11.9%, computers, electronic products and components reached $2.31 billion of export turnover in the same period.

It is said that in the era of IoT (Internet of Things), market demand for products in the semiconductor industry will be very high.

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The era of IoT opens new opportunities for Vietnam’s semiconductor industry.

According to Research and Markets forecasts, the global Industrial IoT (IoT) market is expected to reach $263.4 billion by 2027, with at an annual growth rate of 16.7% in the period 2019-2027. With about 7 billion devices connected via the Internet in the next 2 years, this number could increase many times by 2025, according to Dr. David Bray, CEO of People Centered Internet (USA).

Dr. Bray also said that this is an opportunity for Vietnam to leapfrog not only in Southeast Asia but also in the world in the field of IoT. semiconductor industry will be an important platform because all IoT devices are chip-dependent. In the current global chip crisis, semiconductor factories are seeking an “escape” from China, and Vietnam can become an ideal destination for technological eagles to “nest”.

Is Vietnam the ideal destination for semiconductor investors?

In Vietnam, the semiconductor industry is considered a platform to support and promote the development of other industries, contributing to economic development in depth. This is an economic sector determined by the Government to have products in the list of 9 national products and is an important way to convert scientific and technological achievements into high value-added commercial goods.

Currently, with the influence of the 4.0 industrial revolution, the semiconductor market in developing countries is also growing strongly. In particular, Vietnam is known as an emerging market in Asia, highly appreciated by analysts and foreign enterprises with great potential for development. The increase in consumption demand is the direct cause of the strong growth of Vietnam’s semiconductor factories, attracting investment from many foreign corporations in recent years.

In the Government’s Action Program to implement the Politburo’s Resolution No. 23-NQ/TW dated March 22, 2018 on a national industrial development policy to 2020, with a vision to 2045, the Ministry of Information and Communications was assigned to submit to the Prime Minister for approval a program to develop the information technology, electronics – telecommunications industry to 2025, with a vision to 2030.

In particular, the Ministry is assigned to propose mechanisms and policies to prioritize development of a number of areas: software, digital content, hardware, and electronics – telecommunications at the world’s advanced level, meeting the requirements of the 4. 0 Industrial Revolution; and mechanisms and policies to increase the added value of domestic enterprises in the global value chain.

Will the semiconductor industry enter a new “golden age”?

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Thanks to the policy and legal corridors that facilitate the investment and development of high-tech products, the semiconductor chip sector has become a top priority. Industrial parks and high-tech parks in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Thai Nguyen, Bac Ninh and Bac Giang… with favorable geographical location and abundant human resources have become attractive destinations for investors.

Most recently, Intel Products Vietnam Company (IPV, under Intel Corporation, USA) received a project adjustment investment certificate with an additional investment of $475 million to build the most modern chip test and assembling facility in the Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Park (SHTP), bringing the total investment capital of Intel in Vietnam to $1.5 billion.

Samsung HCMC CE Complex (SEHC) has just been approved to shift from a high-tech enterprise to an export processing firm, which creates favorable conditions for supporting businesses in the supply chain of Samsung, especially those in the semiconductor industry.

The project of SNST & Finger Vina (South Korea), with the goal of designing integrated electronic circuits, with total investment of nearly $1 million, was put in operation in the first quarter of 2021.

Thus, the semiconductor industry in Vietnam has strong momentum to become a spearhead economic industry, in line with the global digital transformation trend today.

Diep Luu


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Is interbank rate climb worrisome?



Interest rates are the most important focus of attention this year as many believe after a year implementing the loose monetary policy, the authorities concerned are going to tighten them.

 Will the recent surge in interest rates on the interbank money market (Market 2) exert adverse effects on the market between banks and their corporate and individual clients (Market 1)?

Is interbank rate climb worrisome?
When it comes to capital inflows, banks have considerably built up their charter capital in recent years and set out plans for drastic capital hike this year. – SGT Photo: Tran Ngoc Linh

Interest rates on the Interbank market, the channel allowing banks to lend and borrow money among them, suddenly surged in late April. More precisely, the overnight rate climbed to 1.2% per annum, the highest during this past year. Such a level is also nearly three times higher than in the preceding week, 4.5 times higher than in the beginning of the month and 100 basis points higher than in early this year.

Similarly, the interest rates for the one-week, two-week and one-month terms picked up 100-120 basis points against the beginning of the year, and 2.5-3.5 times greater than in early April. The hike worries quite a few people as they fear the liquidity pressure in the banking system is returning and the interest rate rise may send its ripple effect to Market 1, which means that banks may start to revise up their deposit rates again.

According to analysts, interest rates are the most important focus of attention this year, as many believe after a year implementing the loose monetary policy, the authorities concerned are going to tighten it. Recent reports by several institutions also forecast interest rates may start to rise again in the second half of this year, as a number of countries are showing signs of beginning their tightening monetary policy.

As per statistics of the General Statistics Office, credit growth in the banking industry as of March 19 was 1.47%, 2.7 times higher than the rate of only 0.54% in capital mobilization. The most up-to-date credit growth figure was 3.34% in mid-April, which might mean the demand for loans has further risen and the growth in deposits until now has probably failed to keep pace with the credit growth rate.

If this trend continues, it is inevitable that the system’s liquidity will further decline. If this is the case, one cannot rule out the possibility of banks competing for deposits once again. However, there are still factors that help stabilize interest rates, while the recent rise of interbank interest rates is probably just temporary.

Prior to any long holiday, interest rates on Market 1 often grow rapidly as banks are in need of capital to meet their liquidity safety and short-term solvency ratios. They will later slide back.

For example, in the latest surge, although the lending rates in Market 2 increased sharply for the shorter terms, there was hardly any change in the rates for the three-month, six-month and nine-month terms compared to the beginning of the month. Moreover, they even significantly went down against the beginning of the year. Therefore, if this demand for liquidity is only temporary, it will probably not exert any pressure onto the bank-to-customer market. 

Interest rates supporters

Meanwhile, at present and in the immediate future, there are factors that help interest rates remain stable as mentioned above. The first is inflation is still at a low level, evidenced by the fact that the consumer price index (CPI) in April recorded the second consecutive month of reduction compared to the preceding month, with a slight decrease of 0.04%. So far, the CPI has only picked up 1.27% against the beginning of the year and 2.7% year-on-year, far from the target of 4% for the whole year.

Notably, from the third quarter onward, a handsome sum of the dong will possibly be pumped out from the six-month foreign currency sales contracts that commercial banks signed with the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) early this year. That amount of money may help stabilize the liquidity of the dong in the system. In recent years, the volume of the dong pumped out via the foreign currency buying activities carried out by the SBV has played a key role in supporting the liquidity of the system.

Faced with accusations of currency manipulation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in late 2020, the SBV has switched to buying foreign currencies in a six-month term early this year, but basically this policy may be supportive to the liquidity of the system. In addition, the United States has lately removed Vietnam from her list of currency manipulators. This indicates the intervention in the market for foreign exchange spot transactions may no longer have to bear great pressure. In other words, the central bank may resume the policy on buying foreign currencies via both spot and forward contracts.

Another supporting factor is considering the fact that prices in the real estate market are on the constant rise in an unhealthy way in some localities, which means probably a certain volume of bank loans has been spent on swing trading in this investment channel, the agencies in charge will tighten their grip to cool down the steep housing prices. The SBV, meanwhile, will probably formulate other policies in a bid to limit the volume of credit poured into risky industries, such as real estate or securities, thereby curbing credit growth in the process.

When it comes to capital inflows, banks have considerably built up their charter capital in recent years and set out plans for drastic capital hike this year. Also, they have successfully issued long-term bonds and valuable papers, which helps reduce the dependence on deposits from individual customers, who often come only when offered high interest rates.

As per deposit rates, in April, whereas several banks lifted their deposit rates (up 0.6 percentage point for terms of six months or longer at GPBank, up 0.2 percentage point also for terms of six-month or more at VPBank, and up 0.2 percentage point for terms of 1-3 months at PGBank), some others further lowered such rates: down 0.1 percentage point for terms of six months or longer at Kienlongbank, down 0.2-0.3 percentage point for terms of 6-11 months at VIB, down 0.2 percentage point for 3-5 month terms and 0.1 percentage point for terms of 12 months or more at Techcombank, down 0.2-0.4 percentage point for all terms at MBBank, etc.



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