Sri Lanka stocks up 1.0-pct on credit speculation

Nov 30, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s stocks closed 1.1 percent up on speculation that the regulator may relax credit rule following a meeting with brokers with President Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier in the week. Brokers had also been warned that excessive credit can fire asset price bubbles.

The regulator slapped credit curbs and the height of a bubble, when there was excess liquidity in money markets and interest rates were lower.

But now there are liquidity shortages in the economy due to the defence of a dollar peg and interest rates are edging up making credit rules largely irrelevant analysts say.

However earnings of several companies have been positive, bringing down valuations though other factors such as deteriorating property rights and an overall undermining of rule of law is also contributing to negative sentiment.

The Colombo All Share Index closed up 67 points at 6,087.40 and the Milanka Index of liquid stocks rose at a slower 0.5 percent to close 26 points up at 5,273 according to stock exchange provisional data.

Turnover topped 2.0 billion, picking up from lower levels seen earlier, giving exit opportunities for cautious players, brokers said.

John Keells Holdings contributed 481 million rupees to the day’s turnover falling 4.30 to 170 rupees.

Other top contributors were HVA Foods with 153 million rupees in turnover closing up 2.40 at 41.60 rupees. Environmental Resources Inc had turnover of 114.6 million rupees closing up 2.60 at 42.60 rupees.

Colombo Land generated 88.9 million in turnover closing at 54.80 up 3.20 rupees.

A delegation representing Colombo’s stock brokers met President Mahinda Rajapaksa asking for relaxation of credit rules imposed by the securities and regulator and the central bank.

The President had promised to help but had also chided the delegation mentioning that some stocks were apparently pushed up and dumped on the Employees Provident Fund, a pension fund of private sector workers managed by the state, broker said.

Market participants sometimes refer to the EPF as the ‘buyer of last resort’ after some controversial stock purchases.