Sri Lankan stocks close flat

July 30, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed flat Thursday, as retailers took profits on blue chip counters, while Dialog shares continued to be heavily traded, brokers said.

The benchmark Colombo All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 0.01 percent (0.22 points) to end at 2,509.79 Thursday, while the Milanka index of liquid stocks lost 0.83 percent (23.73 points) to close at 2,819.54, according to provisional stock exchange data.

Turnover was 510.75 million rupees.

On Thursday there were net foreign inflows worth nine million rupees, with foreign investors buying 91.97 million worth shares and selling shares valued at 82.96 million rupees, brokers said.

“Retail investors took profits on the top blue chips,” Nirodha Bohingamuwa, research analyst at Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said.

“After the IMF bailout package was finalized we expected the market to climb. Up to now that has not happened due to lethargic corporate earnings that have dampened investor sentiment.”

A block of 500,000 shares of John Keells Holdings (JKH) changed hands at 139.00 rupees, while a 600,000 parcel of Nations Trust Bank (NTB) changed hands at 31.00 rupee, brokers said.

Blue chip, index heavy conglomerate JKH closed at 137.75 rupees, down 50 cents, while NTB closed at 31.00 rupees, down 50 cents.

Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, a unit of unlisted Stassens Group closed at 87.50 rupees, down 50 cents.

“If earnings improve in the coming quarter, the market might start picking after August,” Bohingamuwa said.

Brokers said over one million shares of Dialog Telekom changed hands. In the past five trading days Dialog has been the most active share on the market.

Dialog Telekom, the Sri Lankan unit of Telekom Malaysia closed at 5.75 rupees, down 25 cents, while Sri Lanka Telecom shares closed at 47.75 rupees, up 25 cents.

Chevron Lubricants Lanka, a unit of Chevron closed at 127.75 rupees, down 3.50.

Lanka Cement, a favorite amongst retail investors closed at 33.75 rupees, up 1.50.

Selected banking stocks stopped the market going into deep-red territory, brokers said.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 145.75 rupees, up 1.75, while National Development Bank closed at 169.75 rupees, up 4.75.

DFCC Bank closed at 140.75 rupees, up 75 cents, while Sampath Bank closed at 118 rupees, up 3.00.

The spot dollar remained unchanged at 114.90/95 rupees in late afternoon trade, dealers said.