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Sri Lanka shares edge up; tax proposals weigh



Sri Lankan shares ended slightly higher on Wednesday as investors sought bargains in blue-chips but concerns over recent budget tax proposals weighed on sentiment.

The Colombo stock index ended up 0.15 percent at 6,241.10, ending three sessions of losses.  The index hit a near-eight-month low on Tuesday on concerns that the proposed hike in various taxes and fees would reduce disposable income and challenge consumption-led growth, analysts said.

“Market is up on bargain-hunting by foreigners but it’s not a major factor at the moment unless the trend is going to continue,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

“I feel its like a one-off thing. Investors are concerned over the current uncertainty and we could see volatility in the market with the current economic uncertainty.”

The government aims to boost its 2017 tax revenue by 27 percent to 1.82 trillion rupees year-on-year and meet a commitment given to the International Monetary Fund in return for a $1.5 billion loan in May.

The market shrugged off the central bank’s key monetary policy decision on Tuesday to keep rates unchanged. Brokers said investors are concerned about sustainability of rates.  Turnover stood at 579.6 million rupees ($3.89 million), much less than this year’s daily average of 694.6 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 48.1 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, but have been net sellers of 1.64 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year.

Shares of conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc jumped 2.63 percent while Dialog Axiata Plc rose 2.97 percent and Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc rose 0.47 percent.

($1 = 148.9000 Sri Lankan rupees)

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Sunil Nair)