Sri Lankan stocks close flat

May 6, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed flat Thursday as price drops on selected high value shares were compensated by price gains on small and midcap stocks, brokers said. This created a buying spree from retail investors who expect Nawaloka Hospitals financials to improve in coming quarters, brokers said.

In a privately negotiated off-the-floor deal, 5.0 million John Keells Holdings shares changed hands at 191.00 rupees. It closed flat at 190.25 rupees, brokers said.

Nearly 2.68 million Ceylon Leather Products shares were traded in a off-ther-floor deal at 120.75 rupees. It closed at 138.50 rupees, up 17.75, while 500,000 John Keells Hotels changed hands at 20.00 rupees and closed at the same price.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 241.25 rupees, up 4.00, Hatton National Bank closed at 238.00 rupees, up 25 cents, Sampath Bank closed at 277.25 rupees, down 4.00 and Seylan Bank closed at 55.50 rupees, up 1.50.

Sri Lanka Telecom, a fixed line operator closed at 37.75 rupees, down 25 cents, and Dialog Telekom, a unit of Axiata of Malaysia closed at 8.25 rupees, down 25 cents.

The All Share Price Index closed flat at 4,219.60, while the Milanka index of more liquid shares lost 0.40 percent (19.35 points) to close at 4,766.84.

Turnover was almost 3.0 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

At the end of trade Thursday there were 65 price gainers, and 90 price losers, brokers said.

“We saw high institutional, high net worth and retail participation, but the market is showing signs of a correction,” Rakshitha Perera, research manager at Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said.

“However with March quarter earnings showing promising results we expect the market to regain momentum after the earnings are out.”

Retailers continued to buy into Nawaloka Hospital shares, brokers said. It closed at 6.00 rupees, up 25 cents with 18 million shares traded.

On Tuesday, Nawaloka Hospitals group, controlled by the Dharmadasa family sold a large stake of Galadari Hotel which had hurt the hospital group’s balance sheet earlier.