Sri Lankan shares hit more than 1-wk closing high; blue chips gain

FIRST CAPITAL’S HEAD OF RESEARCH, DIMANTHA MATHEW, SPEAKS TO REUTERS.

Sri Lankan shares hit a more than one week closing high on Monday as investors picked up battered blue chips such as John Keells Holdings Plc and Dialog Axiata Plc, brokers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.73 percent firmer at 6,138.73, its highest close since Feb. 2.

The index hit its lowest closing level since March on Feb. 6.

“Bargain hunting in blue chips drove the market, but rest of the market, retailers and high net-worth investors are on the sidelines,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

“The only positive news we heard is the Fitch rating revision, but still investors are waiting to see the direction.”

On Thursday, Fitch Ratings affirmed Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Foreign- and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at ‘B+’ and revised the outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’.

Shares of John Keells Holdings Plc rose 1.64 percent, while Dialog Axiata Plc jumped 3.77 percent and the biggest listed lender, Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc climbed 1.36 percent.

Turnover stood at 785.1 million rupees ($5.21 million), more than this year’s daily average of 625.8 million rupees.

Foreign investors net bought 332.6 million rupees worth of equities on Monday. They have net sold 371.2 million rupees worth of shares so far this year.

Sri Lankan stocks have been hit by political uncertainty arising from a decision of the ruling coalition parties to contest local polls separately, and on worries over a rise in market interest rates.

Last week, the country’s central bank kept key rates steady for a sixth straight month, but flagged possible “corrective measures” in the months ahead in a sign further tightening might be on the cards to temper inflation pressures and safeguard a fragile rupee.

Yields on treasury bills are hovering at a more than four-year high.

Sri Lanka’s stock and foreign exchange markets were closed on Friday for a Buddhist religious holiday.

 

($1 = 150.7500 Sri Lankan rupees)

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

 

The comments on this report are provided by the Capital Markets Research Unit of First Capital Holdings PLC an investment bank in Sri Lanka.

The company operates in the capital markets of Sri Lanka in government securities – treasury bills and bonds, stock brokering and share market investments, asset management, private wealth management,  retirement planning, personal financial planning, unit trust, margin trading, capital market research, trustee services, corporate finance advisory services including corporate debt structuring (debentures, trust certificates, commercial papers), valuations, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs) and project advisory.

The First Capital Group consists of First Capital Treasuries PLC, First Capital Limited, First Capital Markets Limited, First Capital Asset Management Limited and First Capital Equities (Private) Limited covering Colombo, Negombo, Matara, Kandy and Kurunegala.