January 27, 2009 / 12:58 PM / 10 years ago

S.Lanka shares down, rupee at all-time low

 By Shihar Aneez
 COLOMBO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell 0.94
percent on Tuesday as investors locked in profits on some
shares, while the rupee closed unchanged at its all-time closing
low on importer demand for dollars.
 The Colombo All-Share index .CSE fell 17.07 points to
1800.99, from its highest close since Nov. 13.
 It had risen 5.7 percent in the previous three sessions on a
surge in investor confidence driven by the military's capture of
rebel strongholds, including the last big rebel-held town over
the weekend, moving a step closer to finishing off one of Asia's
longest-running insurgencies.
 The bourse is up about 20 percent so far this year after
falling 40.8 percent last year on earnings and economic woes,
including high borrowing costs.
 "Retail investors who drove the market the last few days
sold shares for profit taking," said Hussain Gani, associate
director at Asia Securities.
 Sri Lanka's top conglomerate John Keells Holdings JKH.CM
closed down 1.07 percent to 69.25 rupees, calculated on a
weighted average, while Market heavyweight Sri Lanka Telecom
SLTL.CM fell 2.08 percent to 36.25 rupees.
 Alcohol beverage manufacturer Distilleries Company of Sri
Lanka DIST.CM closed 1.39 percent weaker at 71 rupees.
 Shares in Commercial Bank of Ceylon COMB.CM rose 2.34
percent to 98.25 rupees a share, after a court case that
threatened its receipt of payment for oil price hedges was
dismissed. [nCOL362187]
 Market turnover was 102.6 million rupees ($0.9 million),
less than a quarter of the 2008 daily average of 464 million
rupees.
 The rupee LKR= closed flat at 113.99/114.05 per dollar, at
the record closing low it hit on Monday on importer demand for
dollars by a state bank, currency dealers said.
 The rupee hit an all-time low of 114.15 a dollar in trading
on Jan. 5. It has fallen 0.89 percent so far this year.
 Sri Lanka's total external reserves including gross official
reserves held by the central bank and government, and external
reserves of domestic commercial banks as at the end of November
was $3.9 billion dollars, the central bank said on Tuesday.
 On Thursday, the Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal
told Reuters the country would avoid a foreign exchange crisis
through a number of measures that are already under way to boost
reserves. [nCOL35421]
 The country's gross official foreign reserves at the end of
November, the latest data available, were $2.03 billion. That is
sufficient to fund only 1.7 months of imports and is down by a
third since the beginning of 2008.
 The interbank lending rate or call money rate CLIBOR rose
to 14.605 percent from Monday's 13.999 percent.
 For secondary market rates, please see <0#LKBMK=>.
 ($1=114.02 Sri Lankan rupees)

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