Sri Lanka shares slide in thin trade

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

Jan 09, 2009 (LBO) – Trading on Sri Lanka’s stock exchange virtually dried up Friday as turnover fell to a mere 18 million rupees and the market ending marginally weaker with Lanka Cement being the most actively traded stock, brokers said.

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The All Share Price Index eased down 0.66 percent (10.15 points) to end at 1,532.25 while the more liquid Milanka lost 0.80 percent (13.13 points) to close at 1,635.35.

Lanka Cement was most actively traded stock, ending up 25 cents at eight rupees.

The share has drawn interest as the company owns a defunct cement plant in northern Jaffna sitting on top of a rich limestone deposit that is being eyed by foreign cement manufacturers.

Heavyweight Dialog Telekom fell 25 cents to 5.50 and Sri Lanka Telecom fell one rupee to 32 rupees.

Seylan Bank, whose ownership is set to change hands with the Ceylinco group, the controlling shareholder, announcing plans to sell off its stake, shed 25 cents to end at 31.25 rupees.

Brokers said investors were staying away because of high interest rates and worries over corporate profitability.