Sri Lankan stocks down as investors pause

June 02, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks fell 1.1 percent Tuesday as investors took a breathe, halting a two-week bull run, while the rupee remained firmly fixed to the greenback, brokers and dealers said.

The spot dollar was trading at 114.80/90 in late afternoon trade, after expansionary central bank interventions ended, dealers said.

The Colombo All Share Price Index was down 1.11 percent (24.46 points) to end at 2,185.06, while the Milanka index of liquid stocks fell 1.41 percent (35.33 points) to close at 2,469.45, according to provisional stock exchange data.

Turnover was 335.2 million rupees.

“The market has taken a technical correction, that’s why the shares that went up sharply came down,” said Angelo Ranasinghe of Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers.

“If the correction continues it might open a window for investors who missed the opportunity to come into the market.”

Brokers said one million shares of Nations Trust Bank (NTB), a unit of conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH) changed hands at 35.00 rupees.

NTB lost 50 cents to close at 34.00.

Index-heavy JKH which has interests in transport, leisure, retail, finance and retail sectors, was down 3.00 rupees to close at 111.0, while Sampath Bank closed at 103.25 rupees, down 4.75, on small volumes.

Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, the parent of Sri Lanka Insurance, lost 1.00 rupee to close at 91.75 with 168,000 shares changing hands, brokers said. Investors are nervously awaiting a decision on the insurance firm’s privatization from Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 123.25 down 1.25 rupees, on active trading. National Development Bank closed at 116.00 rupees down 4.00 rupees.

“Since interest rate are also coming down it should encourage investors to look more into equity than debt or fixed income,” Ranasinghe said.

Foreign investor bought 95.5 million rupees of shares and sold shares worth 43.5 million, creating a net inflow of 52.0 million rupees, brokers said.