Sri Lankan stocks end the week up, rupee strengthens

May 07, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed flat Thursday but gained 2.86 percent during a short week propelled by institutional and high net worth investors, while the rupee strengthened against the US dollar amidst weak import demand, brokers and dealers said.

The spot dollar was trading at 117.00/25 levels by mid afternoon and had strengthened to 117.10/117.35 levels by late afternoon trade, dealers said.

Earlier in the day central bank governor Nivard Cabraal said the rupee was at its right value as the local currency floated between 116.50 to 117.70 rupees against the US dollar in spot trade.

In the stock market the All Share Price Index closed up 0.07 percent (1.38 points) to end at 1,894.70 while the Milanka index of liquid stocks, closed up 0.59 percent (12.07 points) to end at 2,058.84, according to provisional stock exchange figures.

Turnover was 330.3 million rupees.

Brokers said blue chip gains were eroded by weakness in index heavy Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT).

A parcel of 500,000 Cargills shares changed hands on an off-the-board deal at 33.50 rupees. Cargills gained 1.00 rupee to close at 34.00.

“There was relatively high activity in blue chip stocks,” said Shivantha Meepage of Acuity Stockbrokers.

“Activity levels are gradually improving and we can expect this to continue in the medium term as interest rates have come down.”

SLT lost 50 cents to close at 39.25, while Sri Lanka’s largest celco Dialog Telekom, a unit of Telekom Malaysia, closed flat at 5.25 rupees.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH), which has interests in finance, transport, property development, food processing and retail sectors gained 75 cents to close at 77.75.

Sri Lanka’s largest privately held bank, Commercial Bank of Ceylon gained 1.75 rupees to close at 95.00, while another private bank, Sampath Bank gained 4.00 rupees to close at 83.75.