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Sri Lankan shares edge down on rate hike concerns ahead of review

COLOMBO, March 20 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged down on Monday, hovering near a one-year closing low hit last week, as expectations of a rate hike continued to weigh on sentiment.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.1 percent to finish at 6,041.17, near its lowest close since the March 16, 2016, hit on Thursday. The bourse fell 0.6 percent last week, posting its fourth straight weekly decline.

The index has lost 1.2 percent since March 7, when the International Monetary Fund called for monetary policy tightening if credit growth or inflation did not abate.

The Central Bank’s second monetary policy review of the year is due on March 24.

"Retailers and institutional investors are on the sidelines; investors are awaiting the outcome of the monetary policy announcement," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

Foreign investors net sold shares worth 3.74 million Sri Lankan rupees ($260,296), the first net outflow in 14 sessions. Foreign investors were net buyers of 2.49 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Turnover stood at 439.4 million rupees, less than this year’s daily average of 672.2 million rupees.

Access Engineering Plc lost 2 percent following a local media report that the government stopped some development projects in which the company was involved.

Dialog Axiata Plc fell 0.9 percent and conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc edged down 0.1 percent.





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