Sri Lankan stocks close up 0.23-pct, hotels gain

May 14, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed higher Friday as investors continued to bet on midcap stocks with keen interest on hotel sector shares, while price gains on selected high value shares pushed Milanka index up, brokers said. The All Share Price Index closed at 4,252.44, up 0.23 percent (9.77 points) while the Milanka index of more liquid stocks rose 0.52 percent (24.61 points) to close at 4,798.87.

Turnover was almost 1.32 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

Retail investors continued to buy into midcap stocks that are expected to show good earnings in the March quarter. But investors should be more careful, brokers said.

Asia Capital, an investment bank with stock brokering licenses, closed at 36.75 rupees, up 2.50 with nearly 3.3 million shares traded.

The firm recently graduated back to the main board of the stock exchange after a short stint on the default board for not submitting accounts for two financial years

On Thursday, the stock gained 1.75 rupees, with 1.5 million shares traded.

Asia Capital’s current liabilities exceed current assets by 424 million rupees and current liabilities of the group exceed current assets by 203 million rupees, its auditors, KPMG Ford, Rhodes, Thornton & Co. said. The company had accumulated losses over a billion rupees in 2009.

Cargills (Ceylon), Sri Lanka’s largest supermarket chain closed at 94.75 rupees, up 1.75, while its parent Ceylon Theaters closed at 81.00 rupees, up 8.00 with 877,200 shares traded.

Retailers were keen on hotels sector stocks, brokers said.

Amaya Leisure closed at 89.25 rupees, up 3.00, Asian Hotels and Properties closed at 143.50 rupees, up 2.50, Hotel Developers closed at 145.25 rupees, up 5.25, Hotel Services closed at 31.00 rupees, up 1.50 and Hotel Sigiriya closed at 58.00 rupees, up 2.00.

John Keells Hotels closed at 20.00 rupees, up 50 cents, Riverina Hotels closed at 102.00 rupees, up 1.75, Stafford Hotels closed at 42.75 rupees, up 2.75 and Trans Asia Hotel closed at 213.25 rupees, up 9.75 with 12,400 shares changing hands, Friday.

Confifi Hotel closed at 220.00 rupees, up 8.00 on slim trading volumes, brokers said.

Aitken Spence closed flat at 1,552.50 rupees, up 53.25, Hayleys closed at 281.00 rupees, up 75 cents, Hemas Holdings closed at 140.75 rupees, down 1.50 and index heavy John Keells Holdings closed at 184.75 rupees, down 75 cents.

Commercial Bank closed flat at 242.00 rupees, Hatton National Bank closed at 233.00 rupees, down 75 cents, Sampath Bank closed at 284.75, up 3.00, and Seylan Bank closed at 57.00 rupees, up 1.50.

Sri Lanka Telecom, a fixed line operator closed at 37.00 rupees, down 1.00, and Dialog Telekom, celco closed at 8.75 rupees, up 25 cents.