COLOMBO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended Monday weaker at a three-month low in thin trade ahead of a monetary policy announcement by the central bank, as the prime minister’s plan for improving the investment climate failed to cheer the market.
Sri Lanka’s central bank is expected to keep its key interest rates steady later on Monday, a few days ahead of the national budget and the government’s five-year policy.
Sri Lanka will introduce concessions on investments and a lower tax regime in its budget to boost faltering investment, generate jobs and remove obstacles to growth for start-up companies, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an economic policy statement on Thursday.
However, investors continued to await the budget, as well as the central bank’s key policy rates and corporate earnings.
"The lower volume and sideways trade will continue until the budget," said Hussain Gani, deputy chief executive at Softlogic Stockbrokers.
"Institutional investors are waiting to see if there would be capital gains tax, as the government proposed some time back, while others are waiting in case of surprises that could have an impact on stocks."
The benchmark index of the Colombo Stock Exchange ended down 0.24 percent, or 15.62 points, at 6,409.23, its lowest close since July 29.
Last week, the index fell 0.35 percent in its third straight weekly fall.
Monday’s turnover was 142.4 million rupees ($962,812.71), less than a fifth of this year’s daily average of 726.2 million.
Foreign investors were net buyers of 5.7 million rupees worth of equities on Monday, extending the net foreign inflow this month to 1.21 billion rupees.
They have sold a net 1.74 billion rupees worth of shares this year.
Sri Lanka’s quarterly earnings season started two weeks ago, but most locally listed firms report in late October or early November. The national budget is set to be presented on Nov. 10.
Shares in Dialog Axiata Plc fell 0.86 percent while Ceylon Guardian Investment Trust Plc fell 6.45 percent and biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc fell 0.48 percent.