Sri Lankan shares becalmed

Apr 08, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed flat Wednesday as early gains were eroded by late selling pressure on Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) and Hatton National Bank (HNB) in low volume deals driven by retailers, brokers said. Analyst said companies engaged in construction related businesses will benefit from infrastructure projects expected to start in the eastern province with the war against Tamil Tiger rebels drawing to a close.

Brokering firm John Keells Limited, a subsidiary of conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH), lost three rupees to close at 63.

JKH, which has business interest in power, transport, food processing, property development, financial services and leisure sectors, closed at 64 rupees flat.

Shares of 72 companies gained in price, while prices of 23 fell.

Foreign buying was at 2.8 million rupees, while foreign selling was 12.6 million.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.06 percent (0.97 points) to end at 1,676.18 while the more liquid Milanka gained 0.34 percent (5.98 points) to close at 1,757.15.

Turnover on the Colombo bourse was 62.5 million rupees.

Thakshila Hulangamuwa, assistant vice president business development at Asha Phillip Securities, said sentiment among small or retail investors seemed to have improved.

“Late selling on SLT, HNB and few other counters minimized the day’s gains on low volume turnover.”

SLT lost one rupee to close at 36 while Sri Lanka’s second largest private bank HNB lost 2.75 rupees to close at 77.

Lanka Cement contributed 12.4 million rupees to the day’s mediocre turnover. Lanka Cement gained 75 cents to close at 13.50.

Tokyo Cement gained five rupees to close at 130.