Sri Lankan shares edge down on large caps

COLOMBO, April 25 Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:59am EDT

COLOMBO, April 25 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended a tad weaker on Friday, led by blue chips like John Keells Holdings PLC.

The island nation's main stock index fell 0.17 percent, or 10.32 points, to 6,167.81, retreating from early gains in the day.

The market has gained 3.34 percent so far this month as some retail investors started buying risky assets in the face of low interest rates.

Lower interest rates have helped the market gain in the past few weeks, stockbrokers said.

The benchmark 91-day treasury bill yield dropped to its lowest since January 2007 on Wednesday, data showed, a day after the central bank kept policy rates steady at multi-year lows.

The day's turnover was 906.3 million rupees, less than this year's daily average of 965.1 million rupees.

The bourse saw foreign outflows for the first time in 12 sessions. Offshore investors sold a net 8.2 million rupees ($62,800) worth of stocks in dull foreign activity, extending the net foreign outflow so far this year to 7.24 billion rupees.

Shares in Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC fell 3.14 percent to 1,065.50 rupees, while John Keells Holdings declined 1.09 percent to 234.90 rupees.

Stockbrokers said the market could see a positive momentum because of an impending parliament approval for a luxury resort project, worth up to $850 million, by Keells that will include hotels, casino, shopping malls, along with a similar project by Australian gaming tycoon James Packer's Crown Ltd.

Vallibel One, which rose 1.71 percent to 17.80 rupees, got parliamentary approval on Thursday to invest $300 million in an integrated luxury tourist resort, also including a casino, in the island nation's proposed exclusive gaming zone. ($1 = 130.6150 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)