Sri Lanka bourse ends tad weaker; HNB leads

COLOMBO, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:51am EDT

COLOMBO, March 31 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks slipped on Monday, led by Hatton National Bank PLC, in thin trade as investors waited for directions after the United Nations announced it would probe alleged war crimes by the island nation.

The main stock index ended weaker 0.06 percent - or 3.86 points - at 5,968.31, further moving away from the more-than-five-week high it hit last Thursday.

The UN on Thursday launched an inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels during the conflict that ended in 2009, saying the government had failed to investigate properly.

Analysts said the investor sentiments were hit by a U.N. resolution approved an international probe into the island nation's war crimes last week.

"On the retail side, the wait and see approach could continue for some time, while we have not seen any change from foreign side so far," a stockbroker said on condition of anonymity.

Analysts said the outcome of the resolution was expected, but investors sentiment has been dented over concerns it could hurt the country's economy. Several potential buyers of risky assets are awaiting a clear direction.

The bourse suffered 2.77 billion rupees of foreign outflow on Friday, a day after the resolution was passed. But brokers said the foreign selling was not due to the resolution and the relevant foreign fund has been on the selling side since February.

On Monday, the bourse saw a net foreign inflow of 55.8 million rupees worth of shares, but foreign investors have been net sellers of 6.85 billion rupees so far this year.

The days turnover was 464.4 million rupees ($3.55 million), near half of this year's daily average of 907.5 million rupees.

Shares in Hatton National Bank PLC fell 3.91 percent to 150 rupees a share while Nestle Lanka PLC fell 0.60 percent to 1997.90 rupees. ($1 = 130.7000 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Joyjeet Das)