Sri Lankan shares down on telecommunications, hotels; foreigners sell

COLOMBO, June 20 Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:00am EDT

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COLOMBO, June 20 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for the third straight session on Friday to a more than one-week closing low as foreign investors offloaded telecommunications and hotel stocks.

However, analysts said the index would be on a slow rising trend this year due to lower interest rate.

The main stock index fell 0.17 percent or 10.75 points to 6,302.45, its lowest since June 11. It hit a more than one-year high on Tuesday.

"It was a sideway market. In the short term, we do not see any much risks because of the lower interest rates," a stockbroker said on condition of anonymity.

"However, concerns over the recent violence and the news that the country has been importing Iran crude despite sanctions could have an impact," the stockbroker said.

The bourse saw a net foreign outflow of 190.1 million rupees ($1.46 million), but they have been net buyers of 5.68 billion rupees so far this year.

Sri Lanka's Media Minister and government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella on Thursday said that the island nation has been buying Iranian crude from various countries via third parties, and avoiding sanctions with the understanding of the United States. The U.S. denied the claim.

Dealers said investors perceive the weekend violence that killed at least three people and left over 75 people seriously injured could hit the market and tourism sector.

The market has been on a rising trend since late February due to the continued foreign buying and lower interest rates. It fell on Wednesday after the central bank held the key policy rates steady, though some had expected a rate cut.

Turnover was 1.21 billion rupees, more than this year's daily average of 1 billion rupees.

Shares of Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, which accounted for 22 percent of the days turnover, fell 0.63 percent to 220.7 rupees.

Shares in leading fixed line telephone operator Sri Lanka Telecom Plc fell 2.71 percent to 46.70 rupees, while Asian Hotels and Properties Plc slid 5.35 percent. ($1 = 130.2000 Sri Lankan Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anand Basu)

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