Sri Lanka stocks driven up by banking sector

Apr 21, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares continued their positive run Tuesday, led by banking stocks with investors upbeat that the three-decade ethnic war would be soon over, brokers said. Foreign buying was at 25.7 million rupees, while foreign selling amounted to 95.4 million.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings, which has business interest in finance, transport, property development, food processing and retail sectors, lost 25 cents to close at 63.75.

Dialog Telekom, a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia, closed flat at 5.25, while government controlled fixed line giant Sri Lanka Telecom gained 25 cents to close at 38.00.

Of the 208 companies that reported December quarter results, earnings were down 66.2 percent to 7.1 billion rupees, against 21.1 billion during the same quarter in 2007.

In forex markets the rupee opened at 117.60/90 against the US dollar and fell to 119.00/120.10 levels.

But the local currency strengthened to 118.90/119.10 levels after the Central Bank talked up the rupee.

The All Share Price Index of the Colombo stock exchange rose 0.56 percent (9.80 points) to end at 1,753.94 while the Milanka index of liquid stocks went up 0.60 percent (10.94 points) to close at 1,849.52.

Turnover improved to 210.4 million rupees.

“The market would continue to be positive as the war is almost coming to an end which will have an immediate positive impact on sectors such as hotels and trading,” said Thakshila Hulangamuwa of Asha Phillip Securities.

“Based on performance, the banking sector led the market on turnover today.

“This will continue for a few days. However, there could be profit taking on selected retail counters,” said Hulangamuwa.

Sri Lanka’s fourth largest private bank, Seylan Bank, gained 2.50 rupees to close at 39.00, with reports that six parties, including foreign interests, are in the fray to buy a controlling stake in the bank.

The largest private bank, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, gained 1.50 rupees to close at 83.00.

Sampath Bank gained 1.00 rupee to close at 70.