Sri Lanka blue chip gains nudge indices up

Nov 17, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares ended barely changed Monday with gains in blue chips lifting the indices and transactions in John Keells Holdings (JKH), whose buy-back offer ends tomorrow, boosting turnover, brokers said.

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The All Share Price Index went up 0.18 percent (3.15 points) to end at 1,787.09 while the more liquid Milanka rose 0.69 percent (13.75 points) to 2,002.94. Turnover was 149 million rupees.

“The market traded in a narrow range with turnover boosted by transfers in JKH,” said Mohan Thangarajah of First Guardian Equities.

“But the economic picture is such that large scale buying is not back in the market.”

Colombo stocks are in the doldrums with high interest rates attracting funds to the money market and making trading on borrowed money more expensive while also eroding corporate profitability along with high inflation.

John Keells Holdings, whose buy back offer at 90 rupees a share closes Tuesday, went up 75 cents to 65.50 with over 1.5 million shares traded.

Dialog Telekom, the most actively traded stock and most active in terms of volumes, ended up 25 cents at seven rupees with just over a million shares changing hands.

Brokers said they expect the market’s slide to continue until global and domestic economic fundamentals improve, with some volatility depending on company results and other announcements.