Sri Lankan shares edge up; foreign investors continue to exit

COLOMBO Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:52am EST

COLOMBO Feb 11 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares recovered from a one-month closing low hit in the prior session on heavy volume, snapping a five-day losing streak, led by hospitality sector, but foreign investors continued to dump risky assets as part of a selloff in emerging markets.

The main stock index edged up 0.05 percent, or 2.88 points, to end at 6,113.15, recovering from its lowest close since Jan. 10 hit in the previous session. It lost 2.2 percent in the last five sessions through Monday.

Foreign investors sold net 884.9 million rupees ($6.77 million) worth of shares on Tuesday as the bourse suffered foreign outflow for a fourth straight session, extending the net foreign selling to 4.6 billion rupees in the last four sessions.

Analysts said the foreign selloff in the emerging markets was the reason for the exit of some offshore funds with profits.

Top conglomerate John Keells Holdings, which led the foreign selling, lost 1.79 percent to 224.80 rupees.

The bourse has seen 3.22 billion rupees of foreign outflow so far in 2014, after enjoying a net inflow of 22.88 billion rupees last year.

Shares in Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings Plc gained 2.71 percent to 72.00 rupees measured on a weighted average, while Cargills (Ceylon) Plc rose 2.3 percent to 151.00 rupees.

Analysts said investors have been waiting for directions from December-quarter earnings and an upcoming UNHRC session in March where Sri Lanka is facing a US-sponsored resolution for alleged human rights violations.

Stockbrokers said investors will shrug off political risks from renewed pressure by the United States to bring a fresh resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC meeting in March, because the market had been expecting the worst.

They said local investors are active in the market after interest rates on treasury bills eased to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive.

The index has risen 3.39 percent so far this year, following a 4.8 percent gain in 2013. It fell in the previous two years.

The day's turnover was 1.98 billion rupees, well above this year's daily average of about 1.26 billion rupees. The market has witnessed an average 1.71 billion rupees in the last seven sessions which analysts attributed to active local investment funds and institutional investors. ($1 = 130.7500 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Anand Basu)