Sri Lankan shares draw foreign interest

Feb 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka shares lost early gains on Wednesday despite high volume trading due to foreigners taking strategic positions on high liquid shares such as Dialog Telekom and Lanka Cement, brokers said. A crossings of 200,000 shares of conglomerate John Keells Holdings changed hands at 65 rupees.

JKH closed at 59 rupees flat. Commercial Bank lost 3.25 rupees to close at 88.25.

Hemas Holdings edged up 75 cents to close at 62.75.

Foreign buying was at 573 million rupees, while foreign selling amounted to 554 million, which brought in a net inflow of 19 million rupees to the market, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index eased 0.35 percent (6.07 points) to end at 1,738.86 while the more liquid Milanka lost 1.00 percent (18.66 points) to close at 1,846.42.

Turnover was 619.3 million rupees.

There was a crossing of 529,000 shares of Tokyo Cement at 130 rupees, with the buyer and seller both being foreigners. And 13.4 million Tokyo Cement non-voting shares changed hands at 11 rupees a share, also among foreign investors.

Crossings are negotiated deals off the trading floor.

Dialog shares were actively traded amongst foreigners, with 63.2 million shares changing hands at five rupees each.

Tokyo Cement shares closed at 135 rupees flat, while Tokyo non-voting was marginally up, to close at 11.75.

“Foreigners will hold onto Tokyo shares on medium to long term on the high possibility of a permanent end to hostilities,” said a broker.

“If the war is over cement needed for development work in the newly liberated eastern province will most probably be sourced from Tokyo Cement, as it is based in Trincomalee.”