Sri Lanka stocks gain 0.34-pct, rupee slides

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks closed 0.34 percent higher on domestic interest in insurance stocks like Janashakthi, while the rupee continued to slide against the US dollar, dealers and brokers said.

The rupee closed at 154.30/40 to the US dollar in the spot market, down from 153.15/45 with strong demand for dollars, dealers said.

The rupee is down from 153.65/75 last Friday. Since the end of the last balance of payments crisis, Sri Lanka is operating a ‘flexible exchange rate’ which so far has resulted in an inflationary downward crawling peg, analysts say.

The Colombo All Share index gained 22.01 points to close at 6,520.46. The S&P SL20 index of more liquid shares closed 0.23 percent higher, up 8.78 points to 3,751.95.

"The market was driven by domestic participation with foreign investors not so active," says Kanishka Perera, Head of Research at Asia Securities.

"There was interest in Janashakthi Insurance and also Softlogic Holdings," he said

Janashakthi Insurance closed up six rupees at 27.80 rupees after Munich, Germany, based insurer Allianz said it would acquire Janashakthi’s general insurance business at a premium for 16.4 billion rupees.

Softlogic Holdings closed unchanged at 16 rupees. In January the company announced a rights issue and private placement at 17 rupees per share to raise eight billion rupees to retire debt.

Janashakthi Insurance, Cargills, Nestle and Ceylon Tobacco weighed positively in the benchmark index.

Supermarket chain Cargills closed 11.20 rupees higher at 209.20 rupees and Nestle gained 40.10 rupees closing at 1,740. Ceylon Tobacco closed 9.80 rupees higher at 1,089.80 rupees.

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Market turnover was 1.2 billion rupees, up 35.5 percent from Thursday’s close.

Net foreign selling was 3.77 million rupees, compared to net buying of 243.7 million rupees the previous day.

Foreign buying in Nestle was 94 million rupees, Asia Securities said.

Foreign selling in Ceylinco Insurance (down five rupees to 825 rupees) was 54.8 million rupees.

Crossings or off market negotiated trades amounted to 20 percent of market turnover.

Access Engineering, down 10 cents to 23.10 rupees, saw two crossings totalling 181.4 million rupees.

Two crossings in Nestle Lanka amounted to 61.2 million rupees. (COLOMBO, Feb 02, 2018)

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