Sri Lankan shares slump on ‘Robin Hood’ budget

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan shares ended weaker Thursday, led by losses in John Keells Holdings which nosedived after its casino project was cancelled by the new government in what brokers described as a ‘Robin Hood’ budget.

The All Share Price Index fell 18.78 points (0.25 percent) to end at 7,376.51 while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks, slipped by 9.02 points (0.22 percent) to close at 4,134.70.

Turnover was 1.3 billion rupees boosted by crossings or off-market negotiated deals in Commercial Bank which topped the turnover list. The deals of 2.3 million shares at 180 rupees each contributed 448 million rupees to turnover.

JKH, which announced a one rupee interim dividend, and Sunshine Holdings were next best contributors to the turnover.

"John Keells Holdings declined sharply in the latter part of the trading session amid the decision to prohibit casinos in its Waterfront Properties project," Lanka Securities said.

JKH closed at 225.00, down 3.7 percent, and led the foreign buying during the day with an inflow of 43 million rupees.

"Colombo’s stock market shed gains collected in prior sessions on Thursday amid the presentation of the budget to the parliament," Lanka Securities said.

"The new government’s ‘Robin Hood style’ fiscal policies in the interim budget, targeted to improve the living standards of middle and low income people ahead of the general election," it said.

The budget imposed several new taxes on the rich and on what was called excessive corporate profits while cutting taxes on a range of foods aimed at reducing the cost of living ahead of parliamentary polls around April.

Asia Securities said foreign investors were net buyers with net inflow of 122 million rupees and accounting for 42 percent of activity.
 

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