April 9, 2018 / 12:38 PM / in 8 months

Sri Lankan stock index hits 11-week closing low ahead of holidays

COLOMBO, April 9 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan share index on Monday touched its lowest close in 11 weeks, pulled down by blue-chips stocks in a moderate turnover, as many market participants were on leave ahead of the traditional Sinhala-Tamil New Year this week, brokers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.38 percent down at 6,431.10, its lowest close since Jan. 23.

The turnover stood at 679.7 million rupees ($4.37 million), below this year’s daily average of around 1.2 billion rupees.

Market sentiment has improved after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion last week, dealers said.

“The turnover was due to some block trade on three stocks. The market wants further direction on the political angle,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO, Acuity Stockbrokers.

“Even before we could observe much reaction to the no-confidence vote, we are going in for a long holiday.”

Ceylinco Insurance (non-voting), John Keells Holdings and Hemas Holdings, which were mainly traded via block deals, together accounted for around 88 percent of the day’s turnover.

Ceylinco Insurance ended 2 percent lower, John Keells closed 0.7 percent lower, Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Plc ended 7.6 percent lower, and Hatton National Bank closed down 1 percent.

Diversified conglomerate Hemas Holdings ended 0.8 percent higher.

Foreign investors bought shares worth net 102.3 million rupees on Monday, but they have net sold 788.3 million rupees worth of equities.

Dealers expect the stock market to be tepid this week ahead of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year on April 14.

The central bank unexpectedly cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points on Wednesday, as policy makers sought to revitalise an economy growing at its weakest pace in 16 years and facing heightened political uncertainty.

The index fell 0.33 percent last week and dropped 1.14 percent in March.

$1 = 155.4500 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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