Sri Lanka stocks end down 1.2-pct

May 03, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed down Tuesday with losses in high value shares dragging the indices down and turnover boosted by large deals among oil palm companies, brokers said. The main All Share Price Index closed at 7,270.67, down 1.17 percent (86.30 points) while the more liquid Milanka index fell 1.30 percent (88.44 points) to close at 6,734.33, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

Turnover was 5.7 billion rupees, boosted by crossings or negotiated off-the-floor private deals in palm oil shares which amounted to 4.7 billion rupees.

Of the 13 crossings all except one were from three oil palm firms in the Carson Cumberbatch group.

There were large deals in three Carsons group Malaysian oil palm units, Shalimar (Malay), Good Hope and Indo-Malay.

Carsons group has been mopping up minority stakes in its Malaysian oil palm units as part of a revamp to prepare for bigger investments and expansion outside the region.

The firms are being brought under Goodhope Asia Holdings, the Singapore-based holding company set up to own and manage the group’s south east Asian oil palm investments.

In return, shareholders of the oil palm firms have been offered shares in Carson Cumberbatch and Bukit Darah.

“Illiquid stocks continued to be among the top gainers of the day. Amongst the illiquid counters Serandib Land, Harischandra Mills and Mirama Beach Hotels topped the gainers list,” Lanka Securities said in a report.

The brokers said retail investor favorites Union Bank, Free Lanka Capital Holdings, Laugfs Gas and PC House were among the mostly traded stocks.

“High foreign activity was seen during the day,” the report said.

“Foreign participation accounted for 27 percent of the total market activity. At the end of trading foreign investors were net buyers with a net foreign inflow of 2.4 billion rupees.”