Vienna Stock Exchange: ATX Upswing Drives Up Equity Trading in Q1

Published: April 2, 2015; 19:00 · (Vindobona)

The Vienna Stock Exchange has seen the strongest monthly equity turnover since August 2011. The average monthly trading volume to date in 2015 is EUR 5.04 billion which represents a gain of 26.61% over the average monthly trading volume of the year 2014 (EUR 3.98 billion).

ATX rallied in Q1 2015 / Picture: © Flickr

The Vienna Stock Exchange looks back at a lively first quarter full of price upswings. The average monthly trading volume to date in 2015 is EUR 5.04 billion which represents a gain of 26.61% over the average monthly trading volume of the year 2014 (EUR 3.98 billion). At EUR 5.69 billion, the equity trading volume in March surpassed the two preceding also very strong months (01/2015: EUR 4.42 billion, 02/2015: EUR 5.02 billion). This is the strongest monthly equity turnover since August 2011. Equity trading volumes clearly increased in the first three months of the current year. Compared to the strong first quarter of the previous year, turnover has still gained 6% (Q1 2014: EUR 14.28 billion; Q1 2015: EUR 15.13 billion). With a plus of 30.1% the rise in the number of exchange trades executed was even steeper.

  • ATX among leading stock market indices: YTD + 16.19%
  • The month of March features the highest equity trading volume since August 2011
  • Market capitalization grows to EUR 90.57 billion
  • 246 specialist and market maker mandates represent a new record

Birgit Kuras, Member of the Management Board of Wiener Börse AG, explains the higher trading volumes: “The year started out on a very positive note. The high trading volume in the first quarter was driven by a growing interest of international investors. In general, stocks are currently profiting from the liquidity supplied by central banks. The weakness of the euro is an advantage for exporting companies. The low energy and financing costs are fuelling stock market trends.”

The leading Austrian index rallies

The ATX rose 16.19% YTD in Q1 and stood at 2,509.82 points at the end of March. As of mid-January (all-year low on 14 January: 2,122.08 points), the ATX started its uptrend. The low exchange rate of the euro, inexpensive oil prices and the abating of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict were behind the rapid rise of the ATX throughout the month of February. The ATX reached this year’s high on 6 March 2015 (2,548.30 points). Real estate stocks, the second most heavily-weighted sector in the ATX, made especially strong gains in the first quarter. In Q1, the best-performing individual stocks in the ATX were RHI (+ 45.71%), Immofinanz (+ 30.83%), Wienerberger (+ 29.93%), Zumtobel (+23.52%) and Andritz (+ 21.86%). Of the 20 companies in the ATX, performance was negative for only one of the stocks. The current market value of all exchange-listed companies was EUR 90.57 billion at the end of March.

“Several factors indicate a good year for stock markets. Austrian equities are still attractive, not least due to relatively low valuations and appealing dividend yields. Current interest rate policy, a weak euro and the solid corporate earnings are a good mix that promises a positive market trend", stated Birgit Kuras confidently.

Top trading members & record number of mandates for specialists and market makers

The two largest Austrian trading members Erste Group Bank AG and Raiffeisen Centrobank AG were at the top of the ranking of the most active trading members in Q1 2015, with a share of 8.54% and 8.29% respectively. They are followed by Deutsche Bank AG (7.71%), Morgan Stanley & Co (7.27%) and Instinet Europe Ltd. (6.45%). Following the annual tender, the new specialist commitments for the prime market apply as of 1 April. Interest in the tender was enormous. The number of market participants with at least one market making mandate has increased steadily from 2011 (10 market participants) to 2015 (15 participants). The number of liquidity provider mandates (specialists & market makers) increased considerably from 97 mandates in 2011 to 246 mandates in 2015.

Michael Buhl, Member of the Management Board of Wiener Börse AG, said, “Liquidity providers are extremely important for regional marketplaces like the Vienna Stock Exchange. I am pleased with the growing number of international market participants interested in acting as liquidity providers for Austrian stocks. The larger the number of market makers, the higher the number of orders in the orderbook and the easier it is to execute the large orders of institutional investors.”

Improvements to the orderbook implemented

Moreover, numerous improvements to the electronic orderbook for stocks have been implemented taking effect on 1 April. The spread between buy and sell orders has significantly narrowed. “The purpose of the changes was to improve market quality. The narrower the spread in the orderbook, the easier it is to trade the stocks”, explained Michael Buhl.

The median spread between buy and sell quotes narrowed for market makers from 3% to 1.99% and for specialists from 2.5% to 1.07%. Market participants that act as market makers and specialists are now under the obligation to keep additional liquidity in the orderbook for longer periods. Market makers and specialists must now quote for 80% of the trading day (up to now it was 65%). The specialists play a special role for the financial marketplace of Vienna. Together with market makers, they improve the quality of the orderbook with the ultimate objective of generating higher order and trading volumes. Any number of trading members may apply to act as market maker for each continuously traded share. An annual tender is held with a bidding procedure to determine the market participants that will assume the specialist functions for the period of one year.