Sri Lanka shares down from 11-month high on profit taking

COLOMBO Tue May 13, 2014 7:07am EDT

COLOMBO May 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka stocks on Tuesday fell from an 11-month closing high, ending a four straight-session winning streak, as investors booked profits, but market sentiment remained positive on lower interest rates and continued foreign inflows.

The main stock index fell 0.29 percent, or 18.20 points, to 6,284.96, slipping from its highest close since June 11.

It rose 1.24 percent in the last four sessions through Monday, while it enjoyed a 7.15 billion rupee ($54.85 million) inflow in the last seven sessions through Tuesday.

Stockbrokers said many investors have been compelled to return to the stock market due to multi-year low interest rates, which has made fixed income assets less attractive.

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC fell 0.76 percent to 1,071.80 rupees after a court ruling on Monday said it should cover up to 60 percent of the printable area with pictorial warnings depicting the risk of smoking on cigarette packs.

Analysts said the ruling could hurt the consumption of tobacco, hitting company profits.

Market heavyweight and conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC fell 0.21 percent to 234.50 rupees, while shares in Bukit Darah PLC, fell 1.60 percent to 669.10 rupees.

Foreign investors were net buyers of 141.1 million rupees ($1.08 million) of stocks on Tuesday. They have been net sellers of 262.2 million rupees so far this year.

The day's turnover was 757.6 million rupees, below this year's daily average of 1.04 billion rupees.

Analysts, however, said lower credit growth has raised questions around growth and earnings amid lower consumer spending.

Despite a multi-year low interest rate regime, private sector credit grew just 4.4 percent in February from a year earlier, the slowest expansion since May 2010. That compared with growth of 5.2 percent in January and 13.3 percent in February 2013.

($1 = 130.3500 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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