Sri Lankan stocks close 0.21-pct down

Mar 24, (2010) – Sri Lankan shares closed down Wednesday as retail investors remained cautious, while a large deal on index heavy John Keells Holdings (JKH) and Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka boosted turnover, brokers said. JKH closed at 171.00 rupees, up 1.00 with 5.43 million changing hands, brokers said.

Hayleys closed flat at 225.00 rupees, and Hemas Holdings closed at 118.00 rupees, down1.00.

Distilleries closed at 117.00 rupees, up 4.25 with 3.45 million shares traded, brokers said.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 195.00 rupees, up 3.00, Hatton National Bank closed at 180.50 rupees, up 50 cents and Seylan Bank closed at 46.00 rupees, down 50 cents.

Nations Trust Bank (NTB) closed at 36.00 rupees, down 25 cents.

NTB said in a statement its recently concluded conversion of ‘2010 Warrants’ issued by the bank had been oversubscribed. The exercise price for 2010 Warrants was 30 rupees a share.

It said 41, 928,668 shares were on offer for conversion and the issue was oversubscribed by 12,076,786 shares with warrant holders applying for 54,005,454 shares.

In February 2008, NTB issued two types of share warrants attached to its rights issue of shares which were to be converted into shares in 2010 and 2011.

NTB, controlled by JKH and Central Finance Company, said the 2011 warrants continue to be traded in the CSE and will be eligible for conversion on February 22, 2011.

NTB said it raised 1,257 million rupees through the 2010 warrant conversion, while 20,963,943 warrants are on offer for conversion to shares in February 2011 at an exercise price of 35 rupees a share.

In other trading on the stock market, Environmental Resources Investments ordinary voting shares closed at 254.50 rupees, down 5.75. Its 0000 warrants closed at 153.75 rupees, down 6.00, and 0001 warrants closed at 153.75 rupees, down 5.75.

Retailer favourites Lanka Cement closed at 27.75 rupees, down 25 cents, and Touchwood Investment, a forestry company closed at 105.25 rupees, up 4.75 cents.

Sri Lanka Telecom, a fixed line operator closed flat at 36.00 rupees, and Dialog Telecom, a celco closed at 7.00 rupees down 25 cents with almost 6.8 million shares traded, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index closed at 3,722.72, down 7.95 points, while the Milanka index of more liquid shares dipped 0.01 percent (0.46 points) to close at 4,320.60.

Turnover was 1.87 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

There were 40 gainers and 88 losers on Wednesday, brokers said.

“Despite high turnover levels market sentiment remained weak,” Rakshitha Perera, research manager at Bartleet Mallory stockbrokers said.

“Retail activity levels were weak partly due to money being tied up with Raigam Salterns Limited initial public offering being heavily oversubscribed and John Keells Hotels rights issue.

“Retail investors have opted to stay on the sidelines mainly due to the forthcoming holiday season and parliamentary elections,” Perera said.

“This is a good time for bargain hunters to capitalize on and new investors to enter the market.”