July 28, 2014 / 11:41 AM / 3 years ago

Sri Lankan stocks steady ahead of holiday

COLOMBO, July 28 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks ended little-changed on Monday in thin trade ahead of a holiday, but sentiment was still positive on expectations of strong corporate earnings after market heavyweight John Keells Holdings’ upbeat earnings.

The main stock index ended 0.01 percent, or 0.63 points, higher at 6,784.27. It has gained 6.4 percent so far this month.

The bourse and the foreign exchange markets will be closed on Tuesday for the Muslim Eid festival and normal trading will resume on Wednesday.

“Bit of a dull day because it is in between two holidays,” said Dimantha Mathew, manager of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd in Colombo.

Turnover was 493 million rupees ($3.8 million), the lowest since June 26 and well below this year’s daily average of about 1.09 billion rupees.

Foreign investors were net buyers of 118.4 million rupees worth of shares on Monday, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow in shares to 10.71 billion rupees.

Analysts said profit-taking could be seen as some shares are overheated but expect corporate earnings to be better.

The index has been in the overbought region since July 3, having risen 14.74 percent so far this year as local investors moved funds from fixed income to riskier assets because of low interest rates.

Shares of Good Hope Plc, which moved up the index, jumped 24.67 percent to 1,870 rupees on just two trades, while Cargills (Ceylon) Plc rose 3.20 percent to 154.80 rupees.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, which posted a 35 percent growth in its June quarter profit, fell 0.29 percent to 238 rupees. Analysts said investors sold the stock, saying it was overheated. ($1 = 130.1800 Sri Lankan Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)

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