COLOMBO, May 30 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a third straight session on Tuesday, posting their lowest close in more than three weeks, as floods and landslides that killed over 190 people weighed on sentiment.
The extent of the damage due to the floods is yet to be assessed, with the country’s main agricultural exports - tea and rubber - hit by the worst torrential rains in 14 years.
Authorities also warned on Tuesday of more rains and landslides as a cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal.
“Short-term disruptions in rubber tapping and distribution difficulties with tea could lead to dwindling production. However, it is too early to comment since the actual extent of economic damage is not known,” Danushka Samarasinghe, chief operating officer at Softlogic Stockbrokers, told Reuters.
“Retail trade would get affected,” he said, adding that demand for FMCG would rise on humanitarian support for flood and landslide victims while the construction sector is also likely to see higher activities in the coming period.
Inflation could rise in the short term, especially due to crop damages and distribution difficulties with regard to fresh food produce and staple food items, he added.
“The impact on the insurance sector could be too early to ascertain, though based on news reports it may not be as damaging as last year,” Samarasinghe said.
The Colombo stock index ended 0.36 percent weaker at 6,655.25, its lowest close since May 5. It fell 0.47 percent last week, recording its first weekly fall in nine.
Turnover was 1.72 billion rupees ($11.28 million) on Tuesday, more than this year’s daily average of 904.3 million rupees.
Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the country’s top lender, edged up 0.1 percent and accounted for over 84 percent of the day’s turnover.
Foreign investors bought shares worth 2.27 million rupees on a net basis, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 19.46 billion rupees worth of equities.
Dialog Axiata Plc fell 1.7 percent, Lanka ORIX Leasing Co Plc dropped 2.3 percent, Hatton National Bank Plc slipped 0.8 percent and Hemas Holdings Plc closed 0.8 percent lower. ($1 = 152.4500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)