Sri Lanka shares weaken, trading dries up

Sept 22, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares ended slightly weaker Monday with trading virtually drying up and small investors hunting for bargains in a becalmed market, brokers said.

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The All Share Price Index was down 0.50 percent (11.14 points) at 2,239.18 while the Milanka eased 0.57 percent 14.49 points) to 2,512.73. Turnover was a mere 87 million rupees.

The main contribution to the day’s turnover came from John Keells Holdings (JKH) with 337,000 shares changing hands at 85 rupees in small lots. It was the second most actively traded stock.

“Retail investors were picking up JKH at 85,” said a broker. “Whenever there were buyers at 85, we saw selling coming in. Maybe a large seller is unloading little by little.”

Most investors remained on the sidelines because of uncertainty and lack of market moving news.

“It was mainly retailers picking stocks – bargain hunting. Institutional activity was virtually nothing,” said Sujeeva Peiris of Bartleet Mallory Stock Brokers.

“Volumes are thin because new funds are not coming in.”

The other main transactions were 290,000 shares of Lanka IOC between 25.75 and 26 rupees and 800,000 shares of Seylan Bank non voting shares at eight rupees.

Equity One was the most actively traded stock, purely on speculation, with 209,000 shares changing hands.

The stock ended up 16.33 percent or four rupees at 28.50 rupees.

About 109,000 shares of Richard Peiris & Co were also done between 43 and 47 rupees.

The indices were dragged down mainly by the fall in Dialog Telekom, which fell 25 cents to close at nine rupees on small volumes, and Sri Lanka Telecom, down 25 cents at 43.25 rupees.