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Monday April 15th, 2024

Sri Lanka stocks recover from over 3-month low; Keells gains after starting WCT JV construction

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks recovered from more than three-month low on Wednesday as conglomerate John Keells Holdings helped to push the index after the company’s joint venture with India’s Adani Group boost the share buying, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed 0.31 percent or 25.73 points steady at 8,293.50, recovering from its lowest closes since August 04 and gaining for the first time in the last five straight sessions.

“Market came off on very thin volumes and in the early part of the trade the market turnover was only around 200 million while the market was 40-points negative then buying came in and moved the market up,” a market analyst said.

The market has been on a falling trend as investors awaited for cues on policies from the 2023 budget which is scheduled to be presented next week amid panic selling time to time.

The market saw a turnover of 831 million rupees, lower than this year’s average turnover of 3.0 billion rupees.

Analysts say the market will remain bearish until the budget for 2023 is presented on November 14, but expect to see a bullish sentiment in January.

Investors are also concerned over the impact of local debt restructuring on risky assets, analysts have said as the market is waiting for a debt restructuring decision between the government and its creditors ahead of an IMF loan approval.

The market is taking a wait-and-see approach after the tax proposals were published. The corporate tax rates are expected to be increased to 30 percent.

The market saw net foreign inflows of 59.8 million rupees. The total net foreign inflow so far for this year is 18.8 billion rupees.

The more liquid index S&P SL20 closed 0.90 percent or 22.75 points higher at 2,541.58.

The ASPI has fallen 3.5 percent in so far in November after losing 13.4 percent in October. It has lost 32.1 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.

The listed companies have shown reasonable profits in their third quarter of the year, however, analysts say the disposable income of the general public due to proposed tax hikes is the main reason for the negative expectations over the December earnings.

John Keells Holdings, contributing to the most index’s gain, ended 2.3 percent higher at 135.5 rupees a share.

“We see foreign buying in JKH in the past couple of days. However, in general, it had a lot of foreign selling. So we think investors are betting on an overall recovery in the next year with good forecast on tourism,” the analyst said.

Meanwhile, another analyst said JKH moved up following the news on the start of construction work of its joint venture with India’s Adani Group to develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) in Colombo port.

Tokyo Cement gained 20.8 percent to 34.2 rupees higher and analyst attributed the rise for a better than expected quarterly results. Cargills closed 5.9 percent firmer at 212.0 rupees a share. (Colombo/Nov09/2022)

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Iran President to visit Sr Lanka on April 24 anid rising tension, inaugurate Omaoya power project

ECONOMYNEXT – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will arrive in Sri Lanka on April 24 on a one-day official visit to inaugurate Tehran-assisted $529 million worth Uma Oya multipurpose development project with 120MW hydro power generation capacity, official sources said.

The announcement on President Raisi’s visit comes two days after Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a retaliatory strike that raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

“The President is visiting to inaugurate the Omaoya project. He will be on a one-day visit,” an official at Iran embassy in Colombo told EconomyNext.

A Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry official confirmed the move.

This is the first time an Iranian President coming to Sri Lanka Iranian after then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit in April 2008.

The Omaoya project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2015, but had been delayed several times due to unexpected issued faced during the project cycle and funding issue after the United States imposed economic sanctions on Iran and economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

The project was started in 2010 and the funding was to be received as loan grant from the Iranian government. However, Iran was able to provide $50 million before the sanctions. Sri Lanka has to bear the cost after the sanctions.

The project includes storing water in two reservoirs with dams before being brought through a 23 km tunnel to two turbines located underground and generating hydro power with a capacity of 120 megawatts and added to the national grid.

After power generation, the water is expected to be brought to three reservoirs while supplying water to 20,000 acres of old and new paddy fields in both the Yala and Maha cultivating seasons.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction was signed between the two countries in 2007 while Sri Lanka’s Cabinet approved the execution of the contract agreement between the Executing Agency, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management (MOIWM) of the GOSL and Iran’s FARAB Energy and Water Projects (FC).

When commencing the project on March 15, 2010, the scheduled date of completion of the project was on March 15, 2015. But the schedule completion date was extended to December 31, 2020 due to the unexpected water ingress into the head race tunnel and followed by social impacts.

The trade between the both countries suffered after the US sanctions. However, Sri Lanka inked a deal in December 2021 with Iran to set off export of tea to Iran against a legacy oil credit owed by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to the National Iranian Oil Company.

Sri Lanka owes $251 million for crude imported before the US imposed sanctions on Iran. (Colombo/April 15/2024)

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Sri Lanka to discuss two contentious points with bondholders: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and sovereign bondholders are to discuss two matters in the near future which the two sides failed to reach agreement at March talks in London, a media report quoting a top aide to President Wickremesinghe as saying.

Sri Lanka and bondholders had discussed four matters on restructuring international sovereign bonds in late March and agreement had been reached on two, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was quoted as saying on state-run ITN television.

A restructuring proposal by bondholders was not in line with IMF requirements, and Sri Lanka had sent a counter proposal, he said.

The matters will be discussed at round of talks in the near future.

Sri Lanka was optimistic of reaching an agreement with the bondholders before June, officials have said.

According to matters already in the public domain, sovereign bond holders are keen to get a bond tied to dollar gross domestic product, as they feel IMF growth projections are too low.

In past re-structuring so-called value recovery instruments, a type of warrant, gave their owners extra payments if a country did better than expected and were tied to items like oil prices.

Bondholders had initially proposed bond which would have a lower hair cut initially, and it will have additional hair cuts if growth is low (about 3.1 percent) as projected in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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BIMSTEC Secretary General visits Sri Lanka, discusses regional cooperation

ECONOMYNEXT – The Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), discussed measures to enhance regional cooperation, during his visit to the island last week.

Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Secretary General of BIMSTEC visited Sri Lanka from 07 – 12 April 2024, following his assumption of office as Secretary General of BIMSTEC in January this year.

The Secretary General “met with senior officials of relevant Ministries/Agencies to discuss measures to enhance regional cooperation under various BIMSTEC initiatives,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Several BIMSTEC countries have bilateral trade agreements, such as Sri Lanka and India, Thailand and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, but no collective regional agreement to enable intra-regional leverage.

During the visit, Secretary General Pandey held discussions with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and paid courtesy calls on the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Secretary General Pandey participated at an event on “Regional Cooperation through BIMSTEC” organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on 9 April. (Colombo/April15/2024)

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