Sri Lanka stocks becalmed

Feb 06, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares were barely changed Friday with the most actively traded stock being Lanka Cement, which has a defunct plant in the north that could be revived if the ethnic war ends, brokers said.

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The indices ended mixed with the All Share Price Index up 0.38 percent (6.64 points) to end at 1,762.11 while the more liquid Milanka eased 0.22 percent (4.10 points) to close at 1,846.61.

Turnover was 91 million rupees with trading still largely confined to small investors with institutional investors mostly on the sidelines.

Lanka Cement, the most actively traded stock, closed at 13.75 rupees, up almost eight percent or one rupee with over 1.5 million shares traded.

Investors have been actively trading in the stock in anticipation of a revival in its fortunes if a defunct plant in northern Jaffna is revived with an early end to the war.

The firm has also started making profits having resumed cement trading, including shipments to Jaffna.

Sri Lanka Telecom led the gains in Friday’s trading, rising two percent or 75 cents to 36.75 rupees and Aitken Spence ended up almost five percent or 17 rupees at 375, both on small volumes.

John Keells Holdings (JKH) rose 75 cents to 59.50 rupees with 277,400 shares done.

Both Aitken Spence and JKH had been in the running for a lucrative Colombo port contract to build a new container terminal for which fresh bids have just been called.

Almost two million shares of market heavyweight Dialog were traded, mostly at five rupees, unchanged from the previous day.

Active trading was also seen in Maskeliya Plantations which closed at 18 rupees, up 25 cents with 199,900 shares done.