March 7, 2018 / 1:03 PM / in 5 months

Sri Lankan stocks extend fall to over 1-month closing low; communal violence weighs

COLOMBO, March 7 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a third straight session on Wednesday and posted their lowest close in more than a month amid investor concerns about continued communal violence.

Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and businesses belonging to the minority Muslims overnight, despite the imposition of a state of emergency to restore peace in the bitterly divided island.

The telecom regulator on Wednesday blocked social media networks such as Facebook Inc Viber and WhatsApp across the country for three days to prevent the spread of communal violence, officials said. “Investors are really worried about the continued violence,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO at Acuity Stockbrokers.

“The market thought the violence was under control yesterday. But it continued today as well. Investors will wait until there is a peaceful situation.”

Trading was thin as most investors stayed on the sidelines. Turnover was 371 million rupees ($2.39 million), less than half of this year’s daily average of around 950 million rupees.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.45 percent weaker at 6,503.86, following a 0.28 percent drop last week.

Foreign investors bought a net 27.9 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 6 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Nestle Lanka Plc fell 3.8 percent, Commercial Bank of Ceylon slipped 1.5 percent, Sampath Bank Plc dropped 2.7 percent and Commercial Leasing & Finance Plc declined 6.7 percent.

$1 = 155.3000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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