Sri Lankan Shares Edge up on Foreign Buying, Turnover Hits Near 3-wk High

First Capital’s Head of Research, Dimantha Mathew, speaks to Reuters Fri Oct 21, 2016

Sri Lankan shares ended slightly firmer on Friday, edging up from their lowest close in 1 month hit in the previous session, as foreign investors bought risk assets ahead of a flurry of corporate results and next month’s national budget. Sri Lanka’s quarterly earnings season started last week but the bulk of locally listed firms will not report until late October or early November. The national budget is scheduled to be presented on Nov. 10.

The benchmark index of the Colombo Stock Exchange ended 0.08 percent or 5.17 points firmer at 6,447.53, up from its lowest close since Sept. 20 hit on Thursday. The index fell 0.54 percent on the week, its second straight weekly loss. Turnover stood at 1.15 billion rupees ($7.81 million), the highest since Oct. 3 and more than this year’s daily average of around 741.5 million rupees.

“Today the market was a bit positive with some foreign inflows. Even though the quantity was low the foreign interest was there,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

People walk past an electronic board displaying various Asian countries' stock price index and world major index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, August 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Stockbrokers said the stock market was also digesting political concerns over the resignation of the head of Sri Lanka’s anti-corruption body on Monday, a few days after President Maithripala Sirisena implied that the agency was favouring the rival party of his prime minister.

This is likely to delay one of the promises of Sirisena’s coalition government to eliminate corruption and could hurt business confidence, analysts said. Foreign investors bought a net 233.8 million rupees worth equities on Friday, extending the net foreign inflow for the past nine days to 1.15 billion rupees worth of shares. They have sold a net 1.82 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year.

Shares in Sri Lanka Telecom Plc rose 2.77 percent, while top conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended steady.

($1 = 147.2000 Sri Lankan rupees)

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)