March 21, 2018 / 12:29 PM / in a month

Sri Lankan stocks fall to 8-week closing low on growth worries

COLOMBO, March 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a third straight session on Wednesday and posted their lowest close in eight weeks, as investors sold diversified stocks such as John Keells Holdings Plc on worries over slower economic growth, brokers said.

Sri Lanka’s economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2017, the slowest pace in 16 years and well below the 4.5 percent seen in 2016, revised government data released on Tuesday showed.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.26 percent to 6,445.97, its lowest close since Jan. 24. It dropped 0.6 percent last week in its third straight weekly decline.

“The market is coming down on worries over the lower growth and political uncertainty,” said Reshan Kurukulasuriya, chief operating officer, Richard Pieris Securities (Pvt) Ltd.

“With the index trading below 6,500, it’s a buyer’s market as most of the stocks are undervalued. But political uncertainty and no visible policy direction hurt sentiment.”

Turnover was 632.2 million rupees ($4.05 million), less than this year’s daily average of around 936.4 million rupees.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings dropped 1.1 percent, Ceylon Cold Stores Plc fell 1.7 percent and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, the country’s biggest listed lender, declined 2.2 percent.

Foreign investors bought a net 164.9 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 7.4 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 156.0700 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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