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Sri Lanka stocks gain 0.45-pct, rupee gains

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks gained 0.45 percent Friday on interest in Janashakthi Insurance, Softlogic Holdings and non-bank finance companies like Swarnamahal Financial Services, and the rupee gained to 154.28/35 against the US dollar, brokers and dealers said.

The rupee closed firmer against the US dollar in the spot market to close the week at 154.28/30 rupees, on banks forward selling the greenback, dealers said. The rupee had peaked at 154.60/70 on Tuesday.

The Colombo All Share index closed 29.39 points higher at 6,572.29. The S&P SL20 index of more liquid stocks closed 8.61 points lower, down 0.23 percent to 3,730.18.

"Turnover was low with foreign investors taking a breather on choppy results in global markets. Investors seem hesitant and looking for direction with local government elections over the weekend," says Sumith Perera, Head of Portfolio at Ceylon Guardian. 

Market turnover was 451.7 million rupees, down 66.2 percent from the previous close.

"The market was mostly driven by interest in Janashakthi Insurance and foreign buying in Softlogic Holdings," he said.

Janashakthi insurance closed 30 cents lower at 30.20 rupees and Softlogic Holdings gained 1.10 rupees to 18.10 rupees.

There was some interest in finance company and energy stocks, brokers said.

Orient Finance closed 70 cents lower at 19.30 and Vallibel Power gained 10 cents to close at 7.80 rupees.

Swarnamahal Financial Services saw 26.5 million rupees worth of shares changing hands among retail investors. It closed unchanged at 2.10 rupees.





"This is mostly on hopes the Central Bank will find an investor to bail out the company and its parent ETI Finance," said Kanishka Perera, Head of Research at Asia Capital.

The finance company has a one billion rupee hole in its balance sheet according to its latest published accounts for the September 2017 quarter, with a negative two rupee net asset value per share. ETI Finance had a negative net book value 17.5 billion at end March 2017.

Bukit Darah (up 49.90 rupees to 269.90 rupees, Carson Cumberbatch (up 13.60 rupees to 221.60 rupees), CT Holdings (up 9.90 rupees to 189.90 rupees and Hemas Holdings (up 3.10 rupees to 124.90 rupees) contributed to the benchmark index gain.

Foreign buying was 90.7 million rupees, down 76.9 percent from 1.3 billion rupees the previous day.
Foreign buying in Softlogic Holdings was 109.6 million rupees.

Off-market negotiated trades, or crossings, amounted to 71.6 million rupees and was 16 percent of market turnover.

One crossing each in Softlogic Holdings amounted to 39.6 million rupees and in Vallibel Power 32 million rupees. (COLOMBO, February 09, 2018)

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