Bourse ends weaker; foreign net inflow tops Rs. 22 b

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:59 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters): Stocks ended weaker for a third straight session on Monday, led by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings as investors remained cautious ahead of the 8 January presidential poll next month. The main stock index ended 0.08 percent, or 6.11 points lower, at 7,230.26, its lowest close since 9 December. Turnover was Rs. 340.4 million ($ 2.6 million), according to stock exchange data, the lowest since 26 May and well below this year’s daily average of Rs. 1.42 billion. Analysts and stockbrokers expect trading to be sluggish due to political uncertainty ahead of the next month presidential polls and the index to fall through December-end. “But the downside is limited because whoever wins in the election, the market will gain because of lower interest rates,” said Softlogic Stockbrokers Chief Operating Officer Danushka Samarasignhe,. “The market will be lacklustre until the end of this year and we expect it to gain in the first week of January because there will be some political certainty by then.” Foreign investors bought a net Rs. 60.9 million worth of shares, extending their net buying so far this year to around Rs. 22 billion, exchange data showed. Shares in Keells fell 0.43% to Rs. 252. Nineteen candidates, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Health Minister Mithripala Sirisena, the consensus candidate of a united opposition, submitted their nominations on Monday. So far 11 loyalists from Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance, including Sirisena, have defected after he announced snap elections last month, while two opposition legislators have joined the ruling party. Speculation over more defections also weighed on sentiment, analysts said.

 Rupee forwards end steady

(Reuters): Rupee forwards closed steady on Monday as banks hesitated to sell them beyond 132.00 per dollar due to moral suasion by the Central Bank amid mild importer dollar demand, dealers said. The four-day forwards or spot-next-next, which were actively traded, closed at 131.99/132.05 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 131.98/132.03. “Credit growth is now picking up and imports are also growing in a lower interest rate and steady exchange rate regime,” a currency dealer said. “So we expect some downward pressure on the rupee, but rupee won’t be out of control.” The spot currency and three-day forwards, or spot-next, were not traded after the Central Bank capped the currency at predetermined levels to prevent volatility, traders said. Central Bank officials were not available for comments. Dealers said they expect the rupee to strengthen from this week onwards through to the year end. Overseas investors sold a net Rs. 3.75 billion worth of Government securities during the week ended 10 December. They sold a net Rs. 43.9 billion ($ 334.86 million) worth in the 11 weeks through 10 December, data from the Central Bank showed.