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Sri Lankan stocks end flat near 4-week low; lenders gain


MAY 10, 2018

COLOMBO, May 9 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended little changed on Wednesday, at a near four-week low, as losses in shares of beverage companies outweighed gains in bank stocks even as many investors continued to stay on the sidelines looking for fresh cues.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s appeal to his own coalition government and the opposition in parliament on Tuesday to end a power struggle failed to cheer investors as weakness in the rupee continued to weigh.

The Sri Lankan rupee hit a fresh low last week on importer demand for the U.S. currency, dealers said.

Analysts said depreciation of the rupee also weighed on the sentiment as it is likely to dent the profits of some listed firms that rely heavily on imports.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.03 percent weaker at 6,483.65, its lowest since April 12. The index lost 0.37 percent last week, its second straight weekly fall.

“Market is searching for directions,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

“After a long time, we saw the turnover crossing 1 billion rupees thanks to a block deal. We also saw some buying interest in banking sector which is a good sign for the market.”

Shares of Nestle Lanka Plc fell 2.2 percent, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended 0.3 percent down and Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Plc closed 0.5 percent lower.

Union Assurance Plc, which accounted for 24 percent of the day’s turn over, closed 2.6 percent higher.

Fitch Ratings has said that recent political developments in Sri Lanka have created some uncertainty over reform momentum and fiscal consolidation, and prolonged upheaval could undermine investor confidence ahead of large external debt maturities in 2019-22.

Turnover stood at 1.2 billion rupees ($7.60 million), its highest since April 4 and more than this year’s daily average of 1.03 billion rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 86.8 million rupees worth of equities on Wednesday, but the market has seen a net foreign outflow to 400.2 million rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 157.8500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan)