Sri Lankan shares fall to over 5-week low on foreign selling

Colombo Stock Exchange

(Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares fell for a third-straight session on Monday to a more than five-week low as foreign investors continued to dump the island nation’s risky assets, contrary to inflows into other emerging markets in Asia.

Before the market opened, Sri Lanka’s central bank kept policy rates steady at multi-year lows, with inflation expected to be contained throughout 2014 by “well-managed demand conditions and improved domestic supply”.

The main stock index ended 0.45 percent or 27.28 points weaker at 6,056.11, its lowest close since Jan. 8. It has lost over 3.07 percent in the last nine sessions through Monday.

Foreign investors sold a net 144.7 million rupees ($1.11 million) worth of shares on Monday, extending the foreign outflow to 4.64 billion rupees in the past seven days as some offshore funds exited the market.

The bourse has seen 3.25 billion rupees of foreign outflow so far in 2014, after enjoying a net inflow of 22.88 billion rupees last year.

Analysts said the market was waiting for directions on the foreign selling and concerned over further foreign outflows.

Analysts said local investors are active in the market after interest rates on treasury bills eased to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive.

Top conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc lost 0.95 percent, to 219.90 rupees, pulling the overall index down.

National Development Bank Plc, which posted a 93.5 percent drop in its December-quarter net profit, rose 1.26 percent.

The index has risen 2.42 percent so far this year, following a 4.8 percent gain in 2013. It fell in the previous two years.

The day’s turnover was 612.7 million rupees, less than this year’s daily average of about 1.2 billion rupees. ($1 = 130.8250 Sri Lanka rupees)