Sri Lankan shares fall; turnover slumps to 21-month low

COLOMBO, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares fell to a near one-week closing low on Tuesday, led by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings, in thin trade as investors kept to the sidelines ahead of holidays later in the week.

Turnover slumped to the lowest level since March 24, 2014 at 262.9 million rupees ($1.83 million), against this year’s daily average of 1.08 billion rupees.

"There is no reason for the fall. It is a year-end market and there are hardly any investors," said Danushka Samarasinghe, research head at Softlogic Stockbrokers.

"Market sentiment next year will depend on how the government is going to fund its fiscal deficit and on foreign inflows into the country."

The market is expected to be lacklustre with low turnover due to year-end holidays starting this week, stockbrokers said.

Markets will be closed on Thursday for a Buddhist religious holiday and Friday for Christmas.

The main stock index ended 0.39 percent weaker at 6,854.57, its lowest close since Dec. 16.

Foreign investors sold a net 19.2 million rupees worth of equities, extending the net outflow to 4.26 billion rupees so far this year.

John Keells Holdings, the country’s top conglomerate, accounted for around 56 percent of the day’s turnover. It closed 2.8 percent lower, while large cap Ceylon Tobacco fell 0.5 percent.





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