Sri Lankan stocks close up

Apr 07, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed up on Monday, driven by index-heavy Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) which moved up on speculation of a possible sell-down of a government stake in it, brokers said. Diversified Hayleys gained 2.50 rupees to close at 89.50.

Chevron Lubricants gained 2.75 rupees to close at 109.75.

The All Share Price Index was up 1.36 percent (22.41 points) to end at 1,675.21 while the more liquid Milanka gained 0.19 percent (3.36 points) to close at 1,751.17.

SLT gained 4.00 rupees to peak at 39.00 before closing at 37.00 rupees, up 2.00 rupees.

Brokers said the stock moved up on speculation that a sell down of a state stake in Sri Lanka Telecom has figured in recent discussions with the International Monetary Fund as part of a fiscal consolidation effort.

The Sri Lankan government has a 49.5 percent stake in the country’s largest fixed line operator SLT. Malyasia’s Usaha Tegas (UT) group is the second largest share holder of SLT and paid 50.50 rupees for a 35 percent stake.

Turnover on the Colombo bourse was 97.2 million rupees.

“Retail investors are expecting to see the market pick up after the long New Year holiday,” said Geeth Balasuriya of Acuity Stockbrokers.

“Therefore we saw some active bargain hunting in the market mainly by retail investors.”

John Keells Holdings, a conglomerate which has interests in power, transport, retail, food processing and property development businesses, closed flat at 64.00 rupees.