Sri Lanka shares fall, high interest rates herald uncertainty

Feb 15, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares ended lower Friday with transactions in Royal Ceramics and HNB non-voting shares the main feature of the day but continuing high interest and inflation rates are seen dampening investor interest in stocks. The All Share Price Index lost 20.85 points or 0.83 percent to end at 2,485.05 while the more liquid Milanka index fell 16.55 points or 0.53 percent to close at 3,132.70 with turnover only 200 million rupees.

Royal Ceramics once again drew attention going up 2.75 or 6.83 percent to 43 rupees with 269,600 shares traded.

HNB non-voting shares went up 2.25 to 55 rupees with 383,600 shares changing hands.

Dialog Telekom ended down 25 cents at 17.72 rupees with 766,000 shares traded while Sri Lanka Telecom lost 75 cents to close at 35 rupees with 163,600 shares changing hands.

Analysts said stock market investor sentiment was likely to be affected by the high interest rates and forecast high inflation levels.

“The market will be affected by the high interest rates and high inflation scenario,” said Harsha Fernando, chief executive of SC Securities.

“Corporate earning are also going to get hit with interest rates at these levels, which will have a serious impact on corporate profitability.”

Investors would prefer to put their money in interest bearing instruments instead of stocks, which means turnover levels are likely to remain thin.

Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said foreign investors were more prominent on the buying side during the week bringing the net inflow for the week to 993.7 million rupees. .