Shares mark over 2-week closing low on foreign selling

Saturday, 15 September 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: Shares fell to a more-than-two-week closing low on Friday as investors sold beverage and banking shares, even as foreign investors continued to trim their equity exposure for a third straight day.

Analysts said foreign investors sold a net Rs. 340.7 million worth of equities on Friday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to Rs. 4.8 billion worth of shares.

Sentiment was also weighed down by the local currency hitting a fresh low for the third straight session.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.49% weaker at 6,031.26, its lowest close since 28 August. It lost 1.4% this week, falling for the first time in four weeks.

The day’s turnover was Rs. 786.1 million ($ 4.81 million), less than this year’s daily average of Rs. 799.1 million.

“Market is down dominated by foreign selling, fear of rupee depreciation and also fuelled by the Nomura report,” said Richard Pieris Securities Ltd. Chief Operating Officer Reshan Kurukulasuriya.

Japanese bank Nomura Holdings ranked Sri Lanka among seven emerging market economies that were at risk of an exchange rate crisis. However, the Central Bank in a statement said Nomura Holdings has made a serious computational error with regard to Sri Lanka’s external vulnerability and its short-term external debt is nowhere near the $ 160 billion figure that Nomura analysts quoted.

Nomura later corrected the figure to $ 7.5 billion, but said its analysts have used the same figure to calculate the country’s Damocles score for the analysis and thus it is unchanged.

Investors have been raising concerns over consistency in the Government’s policy after it changed some budget policies announced last year.

Analysts said the fuel price increase also hurt investor confidence as it could hurt earnings of companies.

Sri Lankan fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices for a third time in four months on Tuesday due to higher global oil prices and a weaker rupee.

Investors are also awaiting cues from the national budget which the government is set to unveil in November.

Shares of market heavy weight Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC fell 5.7% while top mobile phone operator Dialog Axiata ended 1.6% weaker, Sampath Bank PLC closed 1.8% down and biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC lost 0.9%.