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Sri Lankan shares edge down; foreign investors sell John Keells

ATCHUTHAN SRIRANGAN, ASSISTANT  MANAGER – RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

AUGUST 17, 2018

COLOMBO, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended marginally weaker on Thursday, marking their fifth straight session of losses, as foreign investors sold market heavyweight John Keells Holdings amid global worries.

Foreign investors sold shares worth a net 474.7 million rupees ($2.96 million) on Thursday, extending the foreign outflow to a net 3.24 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Lacklustre corporate results also hit investor appetite for riskier assets, analysts said.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.05 percent to 6,083.59, its lowest close since July 10. It has declined about 4.5 percent so far this year.

“There was no catalyst to move the market and the recently released June quarter earnings are not that encouraging,” said Atchuthan Srirangan, assistant manager – research, First Capital Holdings Plc.

Turnover was 788.9 million rupees ($4.92 million) on Thursday, less than this year’s daily average of 832.8 million rupees.

Brokers have also said possible loose fiscal policies in the upcoming budget to woo voters ahead of next year provincial council and presidential polls also have hurt investor sentiment.

Emerging-market equities languished in bear territory on Thursday, shrugging off the prospect of new trade talks between China and the United States, while Turkey’s lira recovered.

Shares in John Keells, which accounted for 71.4 percent of the day’s turnover, fell 1.2 percent, while shares in Ceylinco Insurance slid 1.9 percent.

The central bank left its key policy rates unchanged, as expected, on Aug. 3, citing its goals of stabilising inflation and fostering sustainable economic growth.

Central bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said the economy was unlikely to grow more than 4 percent in 2018, falling short of an earlier estimate of 5 percent. ($1 = 160.4000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan)