Sri Lankan stocks fall to over 7-wk closing low; foreign exit continues

COLOMBO Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:28am EST

COLOMBO Feb 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a seventh straight session on Friday to their lowest closing in more than seven weeks, led by large caps amid foreign selling in risky assets.

The main stock index fell 0.32 percent, or 18.88 points, to 5,937.28, its lowest close since Dec. 31. It has dropped 4.97 percent in the last 13 sessions.

Foreign investors sold a net 438.5 million rupees ($3.35 million) worth of shares on Friday, extending the outflow to 5.27 billion rupees in the past 11 sessions as some offshore funds exited the market.

The bourse has seen 3.88 billion rupees of foreign outflows so far in 2014, after enjoying net inflows of 22.88 billion rupees last year.

Analysts said investors were concerned over possible further foreign outflows, though local investors are still optimistic about risky assets due to falling interest rates.

On Monday, Sri Lanka's central bank kept its policy rates steady at multi-year lows while analysts said local investors were active in the market after interest rates on treasury bills eased to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive.

Shares of Nestle Lanka fell 3.77 percent to 2,020.90 rupees, while market heavyweight Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc declined 1.04 percent to 1,157.60 rupees.

Top conglomerate John Keells Holdings fell 0.93 percent to 212.40 rupees.

The index is still 0.41 percent up so far this year, following a 4.8 percent gain in 2013.

The day's turnover was 1.07 billion rupees, less than this year's daily average of about 1.15 billion rupees. ($1 = 130.9250 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)