Sri Lanka stocks firm, turnover thin

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

July 24, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed up for the second day Thursday after a long slide but thin turnover showed investors opted to stay out of the market owing to uncertainties about corporate earnings. The All Share Price Index closed up 0.86 percent (20.34 points) at 2,376.87 while the Milanka was up 1.19 percent (33.22 points) at 2,833.32.

Turnover was 113 million rupees.

The indices rose on gains in Sri Lanka Telecom, John Keells Holdings, Distilleries, Hayleys and LIOC.

Janashakthi, which debuted on Monday, was the most actively traded stock with 403,500 shares changing hands. It ended up 5.13 percent at 10.25 rupees.

Parquet (Ceylon), which announced a restructuring exercise to regain profitability that includes sale of land, saw some trading, and ended up 6.15 percent at 17.25 rupees.

SLT closed up 2.89 percent at 44.50 while Dialog Telekom was unchanged at 13.25 rupees.

JKH was up 2.28 percent at 100.75 rupees with 250,900 shares changing hands.

Brokers said there is some uncertainty over JKH earnings after a shock supreme court ruling that it acted illegally in buying a state-owned ship bunker business which has been ordered to pay back taxes and vacate land on which it has storage tanks.

Distilleries was up 1.15 percent to 88 rupees. Brokers said there was speculation about the company’s acquisition of the state-owned Sri Lanka Insurance which too has been challenged in court.

Hayleys was up 2.73 percent to 141 rupees and LIOC up 2.70 percent to 19 rupees.