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Sri Lankan stocks edge up from 2-wk low in thin trade

March, 3, 2018

Reuters - Sri Lankan shares inched slightly higher on Friday from a two-week closing low, but foreign selling amid political uncertainty weighed on trade, stock brokers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.08 percent firmer at 6,557.02, edging up from its lowest close since Feb. 14 hit on Wednesday. Sri Lankan markets were closed for a holiday on Thursday. The index fell 0.28 percent this week.

Turnover stood at 449.5 million rupees ($2.90 million) on Friday, well below this year’s daily average of 959.5 million rupees.

Stock brokers said the absence of some fund managers who are attending an investor forum in Singapore hit the turnover.

“We expect the market to rebound next week after the investor forum,” said Jaliya Wijeratne, CEO at First Capital Equities.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, securities regulators and exchange officials are attending the investor forum to attract foreign investments into the island nation’s risky market, analysts said.

Foreign investors sold a net 139.3 million rupees worth of shares, but they have been net buyers of 5.9 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Shares of Ceylinco Insurance Plc rose 6.9 percent, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc firmed 1.8 percent and Dialog Axiata Plc gained 1.5 percent.

Shares hit a more than three-week high last week after two key parties in the ruling coalition decided to remain in the ruling coalition, allaying fears of a government collapse.

President Maithripala Sirisena reshuffled his cabinet on Sunday, appointing his prime minister as the law and order minister, after the governing coalition suffered a series of defeats in local elections earlier this month.

However, the changes failed to boost the market as the cabinet reshuffle was not enough to address the election defeats, analysts said.