Sri Lankan shares fall on foreign selling amid political uncertainties

COLOMBO, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares fell on Tuesday to end near a 10-month low as foreign investors sold equities amid political instability and on worries of further interest rate hikes, brokers said.

While investors turned cautious after the government’s coalition partners decided to contest local polls separately, a rise in treasury bill yields last week also affected risk appetite, said analysts.

Yields on treasury bills rose 2-5 basis points at a weekly auction on Wednesday to a near five-month high after the central bank governor signalled reduced intervention to defend the rupee.

Rising interest rates, which move in tandem with T-bill yields, have been a cause for concern, brokers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.13 percent down at 6,132.68, near its 10-month closing low hit last week, its second straight weekly decline.

"Big chunk of today’s trade was foreign-to-foreign transaction. Other than that, there was no major activity as most of the investors are on the sidelines, awaiting direction," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

Turnover stood at 1.65 billion rupees ($10.99 million), the highest since Dec. 28.

Foreign trading accounted for 67 percent of the day’s turnover, as foreign investors net sold 20.77 million rupees ($138,374) worth of equities on Tuesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 1.65 billion rupees worth of shares.

Shares in Colombo Cold Stores Plc fell 1 percent while Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc fell 0.33 percent.






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