Sri Lankan shares edge down on interest rates, foreign outflows

COLOMBO, June 20 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged down on Monday as investor sentiment took a hit on continued foreign fund outflows and rising interest rates, brokers said.

Investors were also concerned over a government proposal to reintroduce capital gains tax, brokers said.

Overseas funds offloaded a net 137.8 million rupees worth of equities on Monday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 5.77 billion rupees worth of shares.

The benchmark Colombo stock index ended 0.08 percent weaker at 6,461.12. The bourse shed nearly 1 percent last week.

"The market is very slow and nothing much is happening. Market is hovering here and there and investors’ interest doesn’t seems to be on either side," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Interest rates have started to impact the market. But investors are not selling either thinking the rates could come down a bit with expected inflows."

Turnover stood at 381.9 million rupees ($2.62 million), well below this year’s daily average of around 756.7 million rupees.

On Thursday, the bourse fell 1 percent as concerns over a government decision to reintroduce capital gains tax kept investors on the sidelines.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet approved a proposal to reintroduce the tax on Wednesday, especially on land sales, with a cabinet spokesman saying no decision had been taken on whether the tax would apply to capital gains in the share market.

Shares in Commercial Leasing & Finance Plc fell 5.13 percent, while Peoples Leasing Plc fell 2.05 percent while biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc fell 0.31 percent.

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Treasury bill yields rose between 1 and 4 basis points at a weekly auction on Wednesday. They have risen between 6 and 40 basis points since the central bank left key policy rates steady for on May 20.

The average prime lending rate edged up 24 basis points to 10.47 percent in the week ended June 10. Stockbrokers have said rising interest rates could be detrimental to risk assets if they jump beyond 12 percent.

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