Sri Lanka shares down, trading dries up

Dec 23, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares continued to weaken Tuesday with trading volumes staying near six-year lows and Ceylinco group firms showed mixed performance, with Ceylinco Insurance closing up, brokers said.

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The All Share Price Index eased 0.57 percent (8.62 points) to close at 1,501.17 while the Milanka fell 0.40 percent (6.59 points) to close at 1,643.21.

Turnover was just 16 million rupees, not much above the December 4 levels when it sank to a six-year low of 13 million rupees.

Brokers said share trading has been hit by high inflation and interest rates and poor company earnings.

John Keells Holdings, the most actively traded stock, fell 7.41 percent (four rupees) to 50 rupees.

Ceylinco Insurance rose 7.57 percent (14 rupees) to 199 rupees. Ceylinco Finance closed up 25 cents at 9.25, Ceylinco Housing and Real Estate Company closed flat at 11.00 rupees, Seylan Merchant non-voting went up 10 cents to 40 cents, while its voting shares were down 30 cents to 3.10 rupees.

Seylan Bank, part of the Ceylinco group, lost 8.33 percent (1.50) to close at 16.50, and The Finance Company, another group firm, fell 9.82 percent (2.75) to 25.25 rupees.

Ceylinco Seylan Developments, the second most actively traded stock, eased 30 cents to four rupees.

The group was in the news after its chairman Lalith Kotelawala said an unlisted subsidiary, Golden Key Credit Card Company, had been mismanaged and its boss had resigned.

He said Khavan M Perera, chief executive director of Golden Key, had also resigned from the directorates of Seylan Bank and The Finance Company.

Correction: Ceylinco Insurance has written in reference to the stock market update on Monday where reference was made to Khavan Perera, chief executive director of Golden Key Credit Card Company, having resigned from listed Ceylinco companies including Ceylinco Insurance.

Ceylinco Insurance says Khavan M Perera is not a director of Ceylinco Insurance and has not held any position in the company. The error is regretted.