Sri Lanka stocks wake up, foreigners active but still net sellers

February 11, 2018 (LBO) – The Sri Lankan stock market has at least for today, awoken from its seemingly endless slumber. The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded unusually heavy trading on the day with Rs3.3bn (US$20mn) worth of trading turnover.

Foreigners were unusually active, perhaps as a result of Sri Lanka’s stabilising currency. The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) has been holding steady just under Rs178 to the US$. This is up close to 3% from recent all time lows.

More than 90% of the turnover was generated by foreign selling of shares, but that was absorbed with close to 60% of the turnover being from foreign purchases. Still, net foreign selling was approximately Rs1.2bn (US$7mn) on the day.

Market bellwether John Keells Holdings (JKH) saw Rs1.3bn worth of trading on the day. JKH stock has been plagued by seemingly endless selling by foreign institutional investors. The stock price has however been steady at a price close to net asset value as local investors have been accumulating strategic positions.

Despite the heavy trading on the day, stocks finished the session relatively unchanged. There was relatively unusual activity across the whole market as transactions were witnessed in many usually illiquid shares.