Sri Lanka shares hit over 30-month closing low on rupee woes

September, 22, 2018

Reuters - Sri Lankan shares dropped to their lowest close in more than 30 months on Friday as foreign investors sold banking stocks, while a weaker rupee dented investor sentiment as well.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.29 percent weaker at 5,904.90, its lowest close since March 9, 2016. It lost 2.1 percent this week, its second straight weekly drop.

“Today, the market came down on foreign selling in banking shares,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at broker First Capital Holdings, adding that the acceleration in the rupee’s depreciation was creating panic among investors.

The rupee hit a record low for an eighth straight session despite the central bank’s intervention. It fell to an all-time low of 169.00 per dollar, weighed down by importer demand for the scarce U.S. currency.

The rupee has weakened 4.5 percent so far this month after a 1.2 percent drop last month, and has declined 9.9 percent so far this year.

Analysts said they expected a minor support for the stock market at 5,900 levels and a stronger support at 5,800 levels.

Turnover was 977.7 million rupees ($5.80 million) on Friday, more than this year’s daily average of 796.3 million rupees.

Foreign investors sold a net 359.9 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 5.6 billion rupees worth of equities.

Analysts said the fuel price hike also hurt investor confidence as it could hit corporate earnings. Fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices in September for a third time in four months due to higher global oil prices and a weaker rupee.

Investors are awaiting cues from the national budget in November.

Shares of Sampath Bank Plc ended 2.5 percent weaker, Good Hope Plc fell 23 percent, Ceylon Tea Services Plc closed down 8 percent, and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc declined 1 percent.

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