Colombo stocks close flat on uninspiring trade; rupee dips marginally

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

July 6, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lankan rupee dipped marginally while stock market closed virtually flat on Thursday in subdued trade, dealers said. The benchmark All Share Price Index crept up 0.13 percent or 2.75 points to close at 2,116.15 on volumes of 19.1 million shares worth 95.09 million rupees, according to Colombo Stock Exchange figures.

Among the heavily traded counters was Sri Lanka Telecom, which closed flat at 18.25 rupees, while market heavyweight Dialog Telekom remained at 20.00 rupees.

Dialog, the country’s largest mobile phone operator, will have a head start when the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission issues third generation licenses next week.

A unit of Telekom Malaysia, Dialog commenced test runs on 3G networks last year and its CEO told said Thursday that the firm could offer commercial services within two months of receiving official approval.

“We are looking at commercial operations by about the fourth quarter of this year, provided all approvals come through fast,” CEO Hans Wijayasuriya told LBO.

Elsewhere, shares of Tokyo Cement, the country’s largest cement manufacturer, gained 2.2 percent 11.50 rupees after announcing an 89 percent growth in year end net profits of 629.35 million rupees.

Shares of Vanik rose 3.7 percent to 2.70 rupees after a 10 percent shareholder – CareKleen (Pvt) Ltd — called for an extraordinary general meeting next month to remove the ailing firm’s board of directors

The Milanka Price Index, which tracks 25 liquid stocks, slipped 0.06 percent or 1.85 points to close at 2,720.70.

On the foreign exchange market, the rupee slipped to end at 103.98 against the U.S. dollar on sustained demand by importers to settle trade bills, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 103.99 against the greenback from Thursday’s close of around 103.95 and climbed up to an intra day high of 104.01.

However state banks stepped into sell dollars, which helped stem the rupees slide, but traders remained worried that the country may slip back to war.

The rupee has depreciated by nearly 2-percent since January and some traders say the currency may slip to around 105.00 rupees against the greenback towards the end of the year.

Call rates transacted in the brokers’ market were 11.50 percent from Wednesday’s close of 11.00 percent.

However, the money market remained short with the liquidity deficit advancing to 2.5 billion rupees from Thursday’s close of 920 million rupees on sustained borrowings and fund outflows.

In the bond market, secondary market yields for three year paper fell to 11.27 percent from Wednesday’s close of 11.33 percent, while four-year treasuries dipped to 11.43 percent.