September 19, 2018 / 11:33 AM / 8 months ago

Sri Lanka shares snap losing streak to end slightly firmer

COLOMBO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended marginally higher on Wednesday, edging up from their 30-month closing low hit in the previous session, as investors picked up battered shares, while sentiment was weighed down by weak rupee and continued foreign selling.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.06 percent firmer at 5,974.75, edging up from its lowest close since March 15, 2016 hit on Tuesday. It lost 1.4 percent last week, its first weekly drop in four.

“Strong buying came to the market after the sharp drop. Bargain hunting and value buying were witnessed,” said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO, Softlogic Stockbrokers.

Turnover was 657.2 million rupees ($3.94 million) on Wednesday, less than this year’s daily average of 796.7 million rupees.

Foreign investors sold a net 207.8 million rupees worth of shares extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 5.1 billion rupees worth of equities.

Earlier in the session, the Sri Lankan rupee dropped 0.6 percent and hit an all-time low of 166.95 per dollar, pulled down by importer demand for scarce U.S. currency, market sources said.

Analysts said the fuel price hike also hurt investor confidence as it could hit corporate earnings. Fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices in September for a third time in four months due to higher global oil prices and a weaker rupee.

Investors are awaiting cues from the national budget in November.

Shares of Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended 1.2 percent higher, a day after they hit a 30-month low, Commercial Leasing and Finance Co Plc ended 7.4 percent firmer, and Melstacorp Ltd closed 2.8 percent higher.

$1 = 166.7000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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