Sri Lanka stocks fall despite rate cuts

Nov 03, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks ended weaker Tuesday despite last week’s interest rate cuts and better company earnings with brokers saying investors remained wary because of external factors and political uncertainty. “Investors are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. At any other time earnings increases would have pushed up the market but that also is not happening.”

Haycarb, a unit of the Hayleys group, was an exception, with the stock continuing to rise after reporting sharply higher September quarter profits last week.

“Haycarb went up 4.75 rupees because they had good results,” said Kamaladasa.

Haycarb ended at 104 rupees, with over 101.000 shares changing hands.

Piramal Glass Ceylon, which has just reported getting back into profitability after six consecutive quarters of losses, was actively traded but ended flat at 2.10 rupees.

Foreign activity was minimal.

Market heavy weight Dialog Telekom ended at 7.25, up 25 cents.

Dealers say the central bank would withdraw liquidity from the market at rates of slightly over 5.0 percent through a swap arrangement as opposed to about 8.0 percent through straight sales of Central Bank securities. The All Share Price Index closed at 2,964.19, down 0.43 percent, or 12.74 points while the Milanka Price Index of more liquid stocks closed at 3,323.24, down 0.32 percent or 10.60 points.

Turnover was 670.6 million rupees, according to provisional Colombo Stock Exchange statistics.

Brokers said investors remained on the sidelines as they continued to worry over the possible loss of the GSP Plus trade deal giving duty free access to European Union markets.

Investors were also wary because of talk of elections next year and a probe by US authorities into insider dealing in the US by Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon hedge fund, who is a big investor in local equities.

Charith Kamaladasa of Lanka Securities said turnover was higher than last week’s daily average mainly because of a single crossing of conglomerate John Keells Holdings.

JKH ended at 141.25 rupees, down 75 cents with over 3.2 million shares traded including one off-the-floor deal. Trading in JKH accounted for 457 million rupees of the day’s turnover.

“Trading has not picked up as expected in response to rate cuts,” said Kamaladasa.

The government last week ordered state banks to slash lending rates and commercial banks are expected to follow suit.