Sri Lankan stocks end down in thin trade

(EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan stocks closed weaker Monday in thin trade with indices pushed down by losses in index heavyweights as investors stayed away because of the festivities and uncertainties ahead of next week’s presidential poll, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index fell 21.44 points (0.29 percent) to 7,287.59 while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks on the Colombo Stock Exchange, ended down 3.36 points (0.08 percent) at 4,080.22.

Turnover was a low 350 million rupees, according to CSE provisional figures.

The benchmark ASPI was dragged down mainly by losses in Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), John Keells Holdings, Nestle and Dialog Axiata.

Employees of SLT, which fell 3.7 percent (1.90 rupees) to 49.50 rupees on just 401 shares traded, have threatened to strike if the management of the state-owned telco went ahead with plans to make permanent 2,000 temporary workers ahead of the January 8 poll.

The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose re-election chances are being weakened by continuing defections from his ruling party to the opposition, has been promising permanent employment to temporary government workers in a bid to win votes.

John Keells Holdings closed at 248.50 rupees, down 1.50 (0.6 percent) on just 242,000 shares traded, Nestle fell 17.90 rupees (0.8 percent) to 2,100.10 rupees on just 528 shares traded and Dialog Axiata closed down 10 cents at 13.30 rupees.

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