| COLOMBO, March 1
COLOMBO, March 1 Sri Lankan share prices hit a
new record high on Monday led by retail buying, despite the
departure of foreign investors amidst political and economic
The All-Share Price Index .CSE of the Colombo Stock
Exchange gained 0.94 percent to hit a new high of 3843.67
points, surpassing its previous all-time high hit on Feb. 28.
It closed 17.44 points or 0.46 percent up at 3825.30.
"It's retailer-driven and the market will further go up due
to retailers," said Jaliya Wijeratne, director of institutional
sales at SMB Securities. "Foreigners have been leaving due to
problems in their own countries."
Other analysts said the exit of the foreigners was due to
Sri Lanka's own political and economic concerns as other
emerging markets are still seeing foreign investment inflows.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday announced
it is delaying the loan to Sri Lanka after the government missed
its 2009 deficit reduction targets. [ID:SGE61O0GP]
Foreigners were net sellers for 15 million rupees worth of
shares on Monday. They have been net sellers in 30 out of the 37
trading sessions so far this year.
Foreigners, who had been net buyers since 2001, turned net
sellers in 2009, selling 785.3 million rupees worth of shares.
They have sold a net 5.1 billion worth shares so far this year
and 2.54 billion rupees since the Jan. 26 presidential election
results were announced.
Sri Lanka will hold legislative elections on April 8, after
a presidential poll on Jan. 26, in which president Mahinda
Rajapaksa won against his rival, former army commander General
Sarath Fonseka, by a 1.8-million-vote margin.
For Sri Lanka's key political risks, see [ID:nRISKLK]
The bourse is still up 13 percent so far this year,
following a 125 percent rally in 2009, one of the best in Asia.
The day's turnover was 1 billion rupees ($9 million), more
than the 2009 daily average of 593.6 million rupees.
Shares in John Keells Hotels KHL.CM gained 6.7 percent
while Asian Hotel Properties AHPL.CM rose 3.9 percent to
126.75 rupees a share, calculated on a weighted average.
The Sri Lankan rupee LKR= closed flat at 114.58/60 per
dollar though importer demand for dollars were more than
exporter selling, dealers said.
"But a state bank, which usually represents the central bank
kept the rupee steady," said a currency dealer.
The interbank lending rate or call money rate CLIBOR,
closed flat at 9.123 percent from Friday's 9.125 percent.
For secondary market rates, please see <0#LKBMK=>.
($1=114.59 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)