Sri Lanka stock bellwether JKH trades just Rs30,000 as market turnover dries up

September 6, 2018 (LBO) – The Colombo Stock Exchange had one of its slowest trading days in some time, the day after protests shut down the city.  Although the protests were much less disruptive than feared, it still did not inspire people to come back to the stock market.

The major indices finished flat, but the trading volume stood out as being shockingly low.  Total trading volume for the day was valued at just US$740,000.

Trading volume in the market’s key stock, John Keells Holdings (JKH), was embarrassing low at just Rs30,000 (US$185).  A broker said in jest that the total trading in Sri Lanka’s leading blue chip company was less that what it would cost to take a client to dinner.

Stocks in Sri Lanka have been suffering in 2018.  Although the leading indices are down less than other frontier or emerging markets, trading volume has been particularly light indicating a virtual market shutdown.

The major indices, the ASPI and S&P SL 20, are down 4% and 12% on the year respectively.  The total stock market trades at a PE of just 9.5, and a price to book of just 1.2.