Sri Lankan stocks close 1.2-pct higher

Jan 28, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka stocks recovered early losses Thursday to end the day 1.25 percent higher in the first day of trading after President Mahinda Rajapaksa was returned to a second term, brokers said. The benchmark All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed at 3,636.41 points, up 45.03 points, while the Milanka index of more liquid stocks gained 1.38 percent (56.84 points).

Turnover was at 1.92 billion rupees.

“Early morning retailer selling pressure was absorbed by state-backed funds and then others followed,” an analyst said.

“It has to be seen whether if this sentiment would continue during next week.”

Sri Lanka’s stocks have been driven up largely by domestic small investor buying in recent weeks, with foreign investors being on the sell side.

From January 20 to January 26 foreign were net sellers by 1.07 billion rupees.

Fund manager Mark Mobius, from US based Templeton Asset Management has said that the market has to drop at least 15 percent to make it attractive for him.

“It’s positive to hear that the incumbent will be re- elected because it adds some degree of stability,” Mobius, was quoted as saying in Bloomberg newswires.

“We’re not rushing in” to the stock market on the back of the result, Mobius said. “There’s a lot to be done.”

He said Sri Lanka’s infrastructure needs to be fixed and political settlement reached with the Tamil community.

Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said the government’s hand had been strengthened buy the vote and the administration would move towards fiscal consolidation.

Conglomerate John Keells holdings closed at 176.50 rupees, up 2.25, and Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka closed at 117.50 rupees, down 1.50.

Colombo Dockyard, a ship builder, closed at 300.25 rupees, up 2.00, activated carbon manufacturer Haycarb closed at 193.00 rupees, down 1.00, Ceylon Tobacco closed at 201.50 rupees, down 2.75 and Chevron Lubricants closed at 153.50 rupees, up 3.50.

Pelwatte Sugar closed at 36.75 rupees, up 2.50, and food company, Nestles closed at 465.00 rupees, up 5.00.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 190.25 rupees, up 50 cents, Hatton National Bank closed at 193.00 rupees, down 1.00 and Sampath Bank closed at 220.00 rupees, up 2.50.

Seylan Bank now under state control after going almost bust due to run on the bank a year ago rocketed to 46.50 rupees, up 4.75 with 1.36 million shares traded.

The Lighthouse Hotel closed at 77.50 rupees, up 4.50, Aitken Spence Hotel closed at 421.00 rupees, up 31.00 and John Keells Hotels closed at 31.75 rupees, up 1.00.

Foreigners bought 161 million rupees worth of shares, and sold 575 million rupees resulting in net sales of 414 million rupees, brokers said.