Sri Lanka shares slump despite more broker credit

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

Jan 17, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares ended weaker Tuesday, failing to hold on to gains in a sharp rally at the opening, despite the regulator allowing brokers to lend more money to buy stocks, brokers said. The main All Share Price Index closed down 0.08 percent (4.73 points) at 5,924.61, while the more liquid Milanka index fell 0.67 percent (33.68 points) to close at 5,012.41.

Turnover was 1.39 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

The market ended weaker after rising sharply at the opening despite the Securities and Exchange Commission allowing brokers to lend up to three times their net capital to clients to buy shares.

The move was in response to demands by brokers, earlier allowed to lend only their own assets, to prop up the slumping share market.

The adjusted net capital is arrived at after deducting from net capital 50 percent of the value of fixed assets.

The SEC said the new rule will increase the amount all brokers can lend to the market to 8.7 billion rupees from the current 5.0 billion rupees.

Newly listed Asia Asset Finance was the most actively traded stock and the top gainer, Tuesday, accounting for the biggest turnover, closing at 8.50 rupees, up 2.70 with almost 45.8 million shares traded.

Shares of Environmental Resources Investments, which has said it was delaying conversion of warrants, were also heavily traded, closing at 34.30 rupees, up 60 cents with 6.2 million shares done.

They included two crossings of 600,000 shares each, all at 34 rupees a share.

Renuka Agri Foods, which said it plans to buy a dairy products maker, closed up 10 cents at 6.90 rupees.

Commercial Bank closed at 100 rupees, down 10 cents, with 827,600 shares done, including a crossing or off-market private deal of 452,800 shares at 100 rupees each.

Index heavyweight John Keells Holdings closed down 2.10 at 162.50 rupees.

HVA Foods closed up 80 cents to end at 38 rupees with 1.37 million shares changing hands.