ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks closed tad higher on Thursday in thin trade as the positive sentiments from the expected IMF loan approval evaporated with investors looking for profit taking in banks, brokers said.
The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed up 0.09 percent, or 8.76 points, at 9,596.55, its highest since March 10.
The market gained during the first hour of trading, but showed a decline during mid-day trade with the selling pressure on banks.
“Selling pressures were seen in banks, because there has been an 80 percent gain in shares in the last two weeks,” an analyst said.
“This is solely due to the confidence in succeeding a long awaited International Monetary Fund agreement for 2.9 billion dollars.”
He said the market heavyweight Expolanka also witnessed some profit taking as there had been decline on freight rates, meaning that income and profit are likely to go down.”
After receiving China’s assurance for debt restructuring and Sri Lanka’s Letter of Intent for the IMF Executive Board’s approval, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that it is expected to receive the Executive Board’s approval later this month.
According to IMF officials, the proposal will be reviewed by its Executive Board on March 20.
The market saw a net foreign inflow of seven million rupees and that extended the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.2 billion rupees.
The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 0.16 percent, or 4.61 points, up at 2,814.61.
The market saw a turnover of 1.2 billion rupees on Thursday, below this year’s daily average of 1.9 billion rupees.
The top gainers were LOLC Holdings, Hayleys, and Commercial Bank.
Analysts said some investors bought shares in Commercial Bank while selling other banks amid uncertainty over domestic debt restructuring. (Colombo/March16/2023)