Sri Lankan stocks fall in thin trade as foreigners continue buying

EconomyNext – Sri Lankan stocks closed lower Tuesday as trading slackened in the run up to Christmas holidays and a looming presidential poll but foreign investors continued buying, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index closed at 7,223.56, down 6.70 points (0.09 percent) while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks on the Colombo Stock Exchange, fell 2.15 points (0.05 percent) to 4,067.46.

Turnover was a low 544 million rupees.

"Activity is dull these days," said Dimantha Mathew, Manager Research at First Capital Equities.

"We’re expecting sideways movement in the index because of the political uncertainty and the festive season coming up."

A snap presidential poll called by President Mahinda Rajapaksa set for January 8, 2015 followed by the defection of his own Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena to stand against him as the common candidate of the newly unified opposition unnerved investors.

The market has been choppy since then and Mathew said the volatility is likely to continue for the time being.

There were three crossings of off-market negotiated deals – 155,000 JKH shares at 252 rupees each, 56,000 Chevron Lubricants Lanka at 390 rupees and 127,000 shares of
Commercial Bank at 170 rupees.

"There still is a bit of foreign interest," Mathew said.

They are buying mainly John Keells Holdings, the island’s biggest conglomerate, and Commercial Bank, the biggest private lender.





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