Sri Lanka stocks up 0.32-pct, rupee gains sharply

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks gained 0.32 percent on Thursday on buying interest in Hatton National Bank, Janashakthi Insurance and Softlogic Holdings, and the rupee strengthened sharply against the US dollar without Central Bank intervention, brokers and dealers said.

The rupee strengthened against the US dollar closing a volatile day of trading at 154.80/90 rupees against the greenback in the spot market, from the previous day’s closing of 155.35/45 rupees.
 
The rupee traded at an intraday low of 155.80/85 rupees against the US dollar before stabilising, with the Central Bank not seen intervening in the market and foreign banks selling dollars, dealers said.
 
The Colombo All Share index closed 20.95 points higher at 6,553.21. The S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks gained 2.21 points to close 0.06 percent higher at 3,701.01.
 
Market turnover was 878 million rupees, up 34 percent from the previous close, dominated by trades in HNB (closing unchanged at 243 rupees) and Lion Brewery (up 17.20 rupees to 568 rupees).
 
"There was reasonable foreign activity centred on large cap shares. However, investors are still taking a wait-and-see approach looking for assurances of policy stability," said Sumith Perera, Head of Portfolio at Ceylon Guardian.

"Softlogic Holdings and Janashakthi Insurance continue to attract investor interest based on sound fundamentals," he said.

Softlogic Holdings, closing unchanged at 22.50 rupees, Softlogic Capital, up 50 cents to 5.90 rupees, and Janashakthi Insurance, up 1.50 rupees to 31.60 rupees, were among the high contributors to the day’s turnover.

Net foreign selling was 2.3 million rupees, compared to net buying of 97.2 million rupees the previous close.

Foreign selling in Lion Brewery was 76 million rupees, according First Capital Research.
 
Foreign buying was 49 million rupees in HNB and 44 million rupees in Softlogic Holdings.

AIA Insurance, gaining 85 rupees to close at 425 rupees, and Commercial Bank, up 2.80 rupees to 137 rupees), weighed positively on the benchmark index.

Off-market negotiated trades totalled 55 million rupees accounting for 6.3 percent of market turnover, with a crossing each in John Keells Holdings (28 million rupees) and Sampath Bank (27 million rupees).
 
John Keells closed 1.10 rupees higher at 157.90 rupees and Sampath Bank closed 1.40 rupees lower at 318 rupees. (COLOMBO, February 15, 2018)
 

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