Sri Lankan shares end marginally lower; T-bill yields hit 4-mth high

Jan 10, 2017 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares erased early gains to end marginally lower on Tuesday as yields on short-term government securities rose in a weekly auction amid uncertainty over government’s monetary and budget policies.

Yields on treasury bill auctions rose 9-19 basis points at a weekly auction on Tuesday to its four-month high, rising for the second straight session after the central bank governor signalled reduced intervention to defend the currency.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.05 percent down at 6,152.59, slightly above its lowest closing since April 4, hit on Thursday. Last week, the index fell 0.64 percent and was down 9.7 percent for 2016, its second straight annual decline.

The day’s turnover was at 344.5 million rupees.

“Interest in the market was very low as the current uncertainty is keeping investors away from equities,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

“There was no huge selling pressure. Because of rising market interest rates, new buyers won’t be coming in while the existing investors will hold on.”

Foreign investors bought a net 18.5 million rupees ($123,333) worth of equities on Tuesday. However, foreign investors have been net sellers to the tune of 798.5 million rupees so far this year.

They were net buyers for a third straight session on Tuesday, after offloading shares for five sessions through Thursday.

Shares in biggest listed lender, Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, fell 1.34 percent while DFCC Bank Plc fell 1.90 percent and Teejay Lanka Plc fell 3.11 percent.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc fell 0.64 percent.

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