July 26, 2016 / 11:37 AM / in a year

Sri Lankan shares hit two-week closing low; turnover down

COLOMBO, July 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed at their lowest in two weeks on Tuesday as investors sold blue-chips such as John Keells Holdings Plc even as the market awaited directions on the country’s economic policy.

The benchmark Colombo stock index ended down 0.14 percent at 6,387.85, its lowest since July 11.

“Market is down on retail trading in thin trade as the bigger players are waiting to see the prime minister’s policy statement, while they also await directions from the central bank’s announcement on policy rates,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

“We feel the rates will be unchanged, but if they push the rates up a bit, it will slow down the market.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank is expected to keep its key interest rates steady for a fifth straight month on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, despite signs that inflation and private sector credit growth are picking up.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to announce the country’s economic policy next month.

Turnover stood at 265.1 million rupees ($1.82 million), the lowest since July 5, and well below this year’s daily average of around 728.1 million rupees.

Overseas investors were net sellers of 4.04 million rupees worth of shares on Tuesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 4.8 billion rupees worth of equities.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc fell 0.77 percent, while Hemas Holdings Plc dropped 3.59 percent, and leading fixed line telephone operator Sri Lanka Telecom Plc lost 1.54 percent, dragging the overall index down. ($1 = 145.6500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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