Shares extend fall to near 3-month closing low

Wednesday, 6 December 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Shares extended falls into a second session on Tuesday and closed at their lowest in nearly three months, dragged down by beverage stocks.

The Colombo Stock Index ended down 0.24% at 6,390.55, its lowest close since 14 September. It fell 0.03% last week, recording its fourth straight weekly drop, but has gained about 3% so far this year.

Worries over a delay in local council polls and a lack of clarity over the budget and two other key policy measures weighed on sentiment, said analysts.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission said on Monday that the council polls would be held before 17 February.

Investors are concerned about political stability as coalition partners in President Maithripala Sirisena’s Government had decided to contest separately in the council polls.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera imposed new taxes on motor vehicles, telecoms, banks and liquor in the 2018 Budget presented last month, with a final budget vote scheduled for 9 December.

Analysts said market participants were seeking more clarity on those taxes and that there could be some amendments before the final vote.

The Government also released gazette notifications on the Inland Revenue Act and the Exchange Control Act, with investors waiting for clarification on the new legislation.

Shares in Nestle Lanka Plc fell 1.5% on Tuesday, Commercial Leasing and Finance Plc ended 6.9% weaker, and Lanka ORIX Leasing Co Plc dropped 1.2%.

"The market is down on low volumes but the turnover was pushed by foreign to foreign block deals," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

"Local investor participation was low."

Foreign buying accounted for 64 percent of the day's turnover, which was Rs. 917.8 million ($ 6 million), less than this year's daily average of Rs. 943.3 million.

Foreign investors were net buyers of equities worth Rs. 90.3 million, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow so far this year to Rs. 18.8 billion worth of shares.