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Monday February 6th, 2023

Sri Lanka stocks down with thin trade; investors wait for 2023 budget cues

Using tablet computer for stock analysis

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks closed weaker on Wednesday to a more than one-week low in dull trade as amid negative market sentiments as investors waited for directions from 2023 budget scheduled for Nov. 14, brokers said.

The market saw a turnover of 1.19 billion rupees, lower than this year’s average turnover of 3.1 billion rupees.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed weaker at 0.51 percent or 43.89 points to close at 8,561.96, its lowest close since Oct. 25.

Analysts said investors are concerned over the impact of local debt restructuring on risky assets as the market awaited for debt restructuring decision between the government and its creditors ahead of an IMF loan approval.

“Bourse fell back to red from previous day’s marginal gain as day selling by retailers took charge realizing profits from yesterday’s gain,” First Capital Market Research said in its daily note.

“However, investor activity remained dried up during today’s session as retailers chose to be on the sidelines waiting for direction on taxes from the budget 2023 scheduled to be presented on the 14th Nov 2022.”

The market in general is moving on a wait and see approach as it is expecting the interest rates to adjust downward, brokers said.

The market saw net foreign inflows of 33.4 million rupees. The total net foreign inflow so far for this year is 18.5 billion rupees.

The more liquid index S&P SL20 closed 0.34 percent or 8.8 points lower at 2,601.73.

The ASPI has lost 13.4 percent in October and 29.6 percent year-to-date after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Even though the companies have shown reasonable profits in the second and third quarters of the year investors are concerned over December-quarter earnings.

Analysts said, the disposable income of the general public and the investors reducing due to rapid inflation in the country and the proposed tax hikes is the main reason for the negative expectations over the December earnings.

Richard Pieris, leading the index fall, closed 2.9 percent lower at 26.3 rupees a share.

Sampath Bank fell 1.7 percent to 34.4 rupees a share while Melstacorp closed 2.2 percent weaker at 44 rupees a share. (Colombo/Nov02/2022)

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Sri Lanka to address SME tax problems at first opportunity: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Problems faced by Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises from recent tax changes will be addressed at the first opportunity, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

Business chambers had raised questions about hikes in Value Added Tax, Corporate Income Tax and the Social Security Contribution Levy (SSCL) that’s been imposed.

It should be explored on how to amend the Inland Revenue Act, Siyamabalapitiya said, adding that the future months should be considered as a period where the country is being stabilized.

Both the VAT and SSCL are effectively paid by customers, but the SSCL is a cascading tax that makes running businesses difficult.

In Sri Lanka SMEs make up a large part of the economy, accounting for 80 per cent of all businesses according to according to the island’s National Human Resources and Employment Policy.

(Colombo/ Feb 05/2023)

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Sri Lanka revenues Rs158.7bn in Jan 2023 up 51-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government revenues were 158.7 billion rupees in January 2023 but expenditure and debt service remained high, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

In January 2022 total revenues were Rs104.5 billion according to central bank data.

Sri Lanka’s tax revenues have risen sharply amid an inflationary blow off which had boosted nominal GDP while President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also raised taxes.

Departing from a previous strategy advocated by the IMF expanding the state and not cutting expenses, called revenue based fiscal consolidation, he is attempting to do classical fiscal consolidation with spending restraint.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has presented a note to cabinet requesting state expenditure to be controlled, Gunawardana told reporters.

State Salaries cost 87.4 billion rupees.

Pensions and income supplements (Samurdhi program) were29.5 billion rupees.

Other expenses were 10.8 billion rupees.

Capital spending was   21 billion rupees.

Debt service was 377.6 billion rupees for January which has to be done with borrowings from Treasury bills, bonds and a central bank provisional advance of 100 billion rupees, Gunawardana said.

Interest costs were not separately given. (Colombo/Feb05/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices down for second week

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tea prices fell for the second week at an auction on January 31, with teas from all elevations seeing a decline, data showed.

“In retrospect, the decline in prices would be a price correction owing to the overall product quality and less interest from some key importers due to the arrival of cargo at destinations ahead of schedule,” Forbes and Walker tea brokers said.

The weekly sale average fell from 1475.79 rupees to 1465.40 rupees from a week ago, according to data from Ceylon Tea Brokers.

The tea prices are down for two weeks in a row.

High Growns

The High Grown sale average was down by 20.90 rupees to 1380.23 rupees, Ceylon Tea Brokers said.

High grown BOP and BOPF was down about 100 rupees.

“Ex-Estate offerings which totalled 0.75 M/Kg saw a slight decline in quality over the previous week” Forbes and Walker said.

OP/OPA’s in general were steady to marginally down.

Low Growns

In Low Grown Teas, FBOP 1 was down by 100 rupees and FBOP was down by 50 rupees while PEK was up by 150 rupees.

The Low Growns sale average was down by 8.55 rupees to 1547.93 rupees.

A few select Best BOP1s along with Below Best varieties maintained.

OP1                     Select Best OP1’s were steady, whilst improved/clean Below Best varieties maintained.   Others and poorer sorts were easier.

PEKOE                 Well- made PEK/PEK1s in general were steady, whilst others and poorer sorts were down.

Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues met with fair demand,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“However, the Small Leaf and Premium catalogues continued to decline.

“Shippers to Iran were very selective, whilst shippers to Türkiye and Russia were fairly active.”

This week  2.2 million Kilograms of Low Growns were sold.

Medium Growns

Medium Grown BOP and BOPF fell by around 100 rupees

The Medium Growns sale average was down by 33.40 rupees to 1199.4 rupees.

“Medium CTC teas in the higher price bracket witnessed a similar trend, whilst teas at the lower end were somewhat maintained subject to quality,” Forbes and Walker brokers said.

“Improved activity from the local trade and perhaps South Africa helped to stabilize prices to some extent.”

OP/OPA grades were steady while PEKOE/PEKOE1 were firm, while some gained 50-100 rupees at times.

Well-made FBOP/FBOPF1’s were down by 50-100 rupees per kg and more at times.

(Colombo/Feb 5/2023)

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