Sri Lanka stocks close steady

March 26, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed up Wednesday with investors chasing Sri Lanka Telecom shares on speculation of a sale by major shareholder NTT and big trades in John Keells Holding and Nations Trust Bank bolstering turnover. The All Share Price Index ended up 3.78 points or 0.15 percent at 2,549.56 while the Milanka, which tracks the more liquid stocks, closed up 4.46 points or 0.14 percent at 3,190.70. Turnover was 586.8 million rupees.

“Everyone’s eagerly waiting for the SLT sale,” said Harsha Fernando, chief executive of SC Securities.

“A lot of people have bought into SLT which has dried up liquidity.”

Some 4.3 million SLT shares were traded with the stock closing up 25 cents at 40.50 rupees. Punters are now expecting NTT to sell SLT shares when the stock starts to trade without a one rupee dividend after Monday.

The dividend would bring more than 600 million rupees to NTT.

JKH closed up one rupee at 120 rupees with 936,900 shares traded, adding 112 million rupees to the day’s turnover.

NTB closed up one rupee at 30 rupees with 3.9 million shares traded and two big blocks going at 30 rupees. The transactions added 118 million rupees to turnover.

Poultry firm Bairaha Farms said its slaughter house had been opened after a higher court suspended a ruling that closed the factory.

“Bairaha Farms commenced production in its chicken processing factory from Thursday, March 20,” it said in a statement to the Colombo bourse.

Bairaha closed unchanged at 16 rupees with 112,800 shares traded.

The next high court hearing is on April 3.

The company had previously said its chicken sales will not be affected by the court order that suspended production as it has enough stocks.

Cargills (Ceylon) went up 12.25 to close at 2,000 rupees while Dialog Telekom was unchanged at 17 rupees with 40,000 shares traded.

Lanka Cement saw 145,600 shares done and closed up 25 cents at 14 rupees. .