Sri Lankan rupee strengthens; shares close narrowly mixed

July 7, 2006 (LBO) – Colombo share prices closed little change in moderate trade Friday, but the rupee rallied a touch on some dollars sales by state banks, dealers said. They said the benchmark finished in the positive territory thanks to local retail interest in few smaller cap stocks, with institutional interest in selected bluechip counters.

The weighted index closed up 1.06 points or 0.05 percent at 2,117.22 on volumes of 23.9 million shares worth 120.10 million rupees, according to Colombo Stock Exchange figures.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings dominated the day adding 0.2 percent to 131.50 rupees, mainly on institutional interest.

Among the day’s heavily traded counters were Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, which has investments in banks, leisure, telecom and power, which slipped 2.3 percent to 43.00 rupees.

Among the banking sector, Commercial Bank closed flat at 149.00 rupees while NDB Bank ended flat at 150.00 rupees.

On the foreign exchange market, Sri Lanka’s rupee strengthened slightly against the U.S. dollar Friday to close at 103.96, on sustained demand by importers to settle trade bills.

Call rates transacted in the brokers’ market were 11.25 percent from Thursday’s close of 11.50 percent.

The money market, however, remained short with the deficit widening to 4.4 billion rupees from Thursday’s close of 2.5 billion rupees on fund outflows and sustained borrowings.

Secondary bond yields fell by 3-5 basis points Friday, amid moderate trade mostly for three and four year maturities. Yields for three-year treasuries closed at 11.18 percent, while the four-year notes dipped to 11.35 percent.

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