Reuters: Sri Lankan stocks closed at their highest level in six weeks on Tuesday, led by record gains in Commercial Credit and Finance Plc after Thailand’s Group Lease PCL bought a 30% stake in the firm.
Motorcycle Lessor Group Lease has acquired a 30% stake in Commercial Credit and Finance PLC (CCF) for $ 70m, the company said on Monday, in its first major expansion outside Southeast Asia.
Shares of CCF touched a record high of Rs. 77 during the session, before closing at Rs. 72.80. “We saw strong interest in other financial shares as well after this deal,” said First Capital Equities Ltd. Head of Research Dimantha Mathew.
The benchmark index of the Colombo Stock Exchange ended firmer by 0.26%, or 17.02 points, at 6,591.41 - its highest close since 23 August.
“We are bullish on the outlook because the market interest rates have fallen in the last one month. Large investors are still waiting to see the budget. But we see some people are ready to take risk in medium-term and buying now,” Mathew added. Treasury bill yields have slipped between 48 basis points and 62 basis points in the last four weekly auctions through Wednesday, the Central Bank data showed.
Analysts said they expected the index to rise this week due to the fall in the return on fixed income assets. Foreign investors bought a net Rs. 10 m worth of shares on Tuesday but they have been net sellers of Rs. 2.85 b worth of equities so far this year. Turnover stood at Rs. 621.7 m, less than this year’s daily average of Rs. 758.7 m.
Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC climbed 2.3%; however, analysts said the company’s shares are likely to fall on Wednesday after the Government imposed a 20% tax on tobacco with effect from Tuesday.
Rupee eases on importer dollar demand
Reuters: The rupee closed weaker on Tuesday on importer dollar demand in the absence of central bank intervention, and the market expects the local currency to be under downward pressure due to seasonal imports until mid-December, dealers said.
The spot rupee closed at 146.70/75 per dollar, edging down from Monday’s close of 146.55/65.
The rupee has been under downward pressure due to seasonal importer dollar demand, posting a 0.65% decline last week.
“We do not see any direction from the central bank regarding the spot rupee level,” a currency dealer said.
Finance Ministry Ravi Karunanayake said on Monday the government wanted a strong currency through higher foreign inflows and without interventions.
“We are trying to get into an equilibrium between the interest rates and exchange rate,” he told a Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) forum.
He also said the government was planning to impose heavy penalties on tax defaulters and expand tax offices across the country as it aims to increase the tax base.
The central bank has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to continue rebuilding international reserves and maintain exchange rate flexibility to develop the foreign exchange market further.