Reuters: Sri Lankan shares crawled higher yesterday (26 March) from their lowest close in more than eight weeks as blue chip stocks gained, but negative sentiment over the island nation’s slower economic growth weighed on the market.
The Colombo stock index closed 0.08% firmer at 6,448.60, edging up from its lowest close since 24 Jan hit on Friday (23 March).
The bourse fell 1% last week, its fourth straight weekly drop.
Sri Lanka’s economy grew by 3.1% in 2017, the slowest pace in 16 years and well below the 4.5% seen in 2016, revised Government data released last week showed.
Investors are waiting for the central bank’s interest rate decision in April, said First Capital Holdings Head of Research Dimantha Mathew.
Turnover was Rs. 1.6 billion ($10.3 million), more than this year’s daily average of around Rs. 56.6 million.
Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC rose 0.8%, while Ceylinco Insurance PLC ended 2.3% firmer and biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC gained 0.1%. Foreign investors sold a net Rs. 354.9 million worth of shares, but they have been net buyers of Rs. 6.9 billion worth of equities so far this year.
Analysts said an increase in retail fuel prices also weighed on investor sentiment.
Sri Lankan fuel retailer Lanka IOC PLC raised retail prices for gasoline and diesel, the company said on Saturday (24 March), due to losses incurred after the Government’s failure to implement a pricing formula.