Sri Lanka stocks close down 0.4-pct, rupee in new low

Mar 15, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s stocks closed 0.4 percent Thursday amid continued foreign interest, and the rupee peg weakened to a new low below 125 rupees, dealers and brokers said. The rupee closed at 125.00/25 against the greenback with the peg weakening as low as 125.10 in intra-day trade, dealers said.

The benchmark Colombo All Share Index closed down 20.87 points (-0.39 percent) at
5,397.20 points and the Milanka Index of liquid stocks gained 0.24 percent (11.37 points) to close at 4,833.68 points.

Turnover was 419 million rupees with a volume of 14.2 million
shares traded.

Net foreign buying was 94 million rupees. Foreigners have been net buyers for several days running. Though interest rates are rising, a weaker rupee creates one-off inflation especially for firms in the traded good sector which can see an increase in revenues.

Firms can make higher nominal profits by under-paying workers in real terms.

Price to earnings multiples of several firms have also improved, with a low-interest rate fired stock bubble slowly deflating and putting Sri Lanka’s valuations closer to regional peers.

Sri Lanka’s market price to earnings multiple is now 14.1 times on historical profits.

One crossing was recorded as 145,000 shares of Ascot Holdings changed
hands at 220.00 rupees each, corresponding to a 52 week high, and
contributing 121 million rupees to turnover.

The share closed at 202.00 rupee, up 2.10 rupees.

Continued interest is seen in blue chip JKH, closing at 195.10 rupees,
up 10 cents, and pumping 77.5 million rupees into the market.

Commercial Bank closed at 99.90 rupees, up 30 cents, having
contributed 37.1 million rupees to turnover.

Seylan Bank ended the day on 64.50 rupees, up 4.50 rupees, HNB at
150.00 rupees, up 30 cents, and NTB at 58.00 rupees, up 1.40 rupees.

Vallibel One share closed at 20.10 rupees, down 20 cents, while
Carsons was at 468.00 rupees, down 7.00 rupees.

Telco SLT closed at 47.00 rupees, down 1.20 rupees, Dialog at 7.20
rupees, up 10 cents, and Aitken Spence 115.20 rupees, down 30 cents.

Actively traded counters include Capital Alliance Finance at 37.00
rupees, up 70 cents, ERI at 15.60 rupees down 30 cents, and Orient
Garments at 16.50 rupees, down 90 cents.

Several stocks reached their 52 week lows, including Expolanka
Holdings at 6.50 rupees, Peoples Leasing at 11 rupees, Raigam Salterns
at 3.10 rupees, Tokyo Cement at 38.00 rupees, Lanka Tiles at 67.00
rupees, and Lanka Ceramics at 72.00 rupees.