Sri Lanka shares edge higher, LMF draws interest

Mar 03, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed slightly higher Monday with a crossing of Sampath Bank shares and heavy in Lan trading in Lanka Milk Foods helping turnover, brokers said.

Market heavyweight Dialog Telekom closed flat at 17.75 after going up to 18.00 during the day. The All Share Price Index gained 2.68 points or 0.11 percent to close at 2,533.54 while the more liquid Milanka Index was barely changed at 3,172.87 with turnover being 273 million rupees.

Harsha Fernando, chief executive of SC Securities, said there was a crossing of 280,000 shares of Sampath at 114 rupees.

The stock closed up 1.50 at 114 rupees with altogether 320,900 shares being traded.

“Indices should move within a range. The All Share price index has been hovering around 2,500 and there has to be some sort of positive news either on the political or economic front for a big change in the market.”

Interest in plantations stocks slowed after retail investors, who drove up share prices quite a bit in the past two or three weeks, took profits.

Lanka Milk Foods, the milk powder packer which is part of the Distilleries group, closed up 3.50 or 7.78 percent at 48.50 rupees with 679,400 shares traded, accounting for the highest turnover in the day.

Shares of LMF, which has reported sharply higher profits for the December quarter, opened at 45.00 and went up to 49.00 rupees during the day.

Distilleries closed up 50 cents at 100 rupees with 11,000 shares traded.

Lanka Cement, whose cement plant in northern Jaffna is being eyed by India’s Birla group as well as multinational Holcim, continued to be the subject of speculative activity with over 1.5 million shares traded.

The stock closed up 50 cents at 16 rupees.

Aitken Spence, which was the front-runner with PSA Corp for a new container in Colombo port bids for which have now been cancelled, traded flat at 420 rupees.