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Sri Lankan shares hit near 3-week closing low on foreign selling


AUGUST 02, 2018

COLOMBO, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended weaker on Wednesday, hovering at their lowest close in three weeks, as foreign investors offloaded blue-chip stocks such as John Keells Holdings Plc, while lacklustre corporate results dented sentiment further.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.29 percent weaker at 6,129.32, near its lowest close since July 12. The bourse dropped 3.8 percent so far this year

The index dropped 0.47 percent last week, marking its first weekly decline in three.

Turnover stood at 374.4 million rupees ($2.35 million), less than this year’s daily average of 852.6 million rupees.

“The market is down mainly because of the foreign selling,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

“Today the local buying was not there to absorb foreign selling,” he added.

Foreign investors sold equities net worth 116.4 million rupees on Wednesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 2.6 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

A downward revision in economic growth estimate earlier this month by the central bank also hurt sentiment, analysts said.

Economic growth in 2018 is likely to be between 4 percent and 4.5 percent, falling short of an earlier estimate of 5 percent, Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said earlier this month.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holding Plc ended down 2.6 percent, while Melstacorp Ltd closed 3 percent lower. The biggest-listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc ended 1.5 percent down and Distillers Company of Sri Lanka Plc closed 0.4 percent down.