Sri Lankan shares end lower; John Keells, Ceylon Tobacco fall

COLOMBO, July 27 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended slightly lower on Wednesday as investors sold blue-chips such as John Keells Holdings Plc and Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc even as the market awaited directions on the country’s economic policy.

The benchmark Colombo stock index ended down 0.09 percent at 6,382.42. It has fallen for three straight sessions through Wednesday.

"Investors area waiting to see tomorrow’s policy rates," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd. "The government has promised a lot. So people are waiting to see whether those will be fulfilled in the prime minister’s policy statement."

Sri Lanka’s central bank is expected to keep its key interest rates steady for a fifth straight month on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, despite signs that inflation and private sector credit growth are picking up.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to announce the country’s economic policy next month.

Turnover stood at 364 million rupees ($2.49 million), well below this year’s daily average of around 725.4 million rupees.

Overseas investors were net sellers of 4.79 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year, but they were net buyers of 14.9 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc fell 1 percent, while Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc dropped 1.1 percent, dragging the overall index down.

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