June 1, 2020 / 12:36 PM / a month ago

Sri Lankan shares end lower as pandemic delays reopening tourism sector

June 1 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed lower for a second straight session on Monday, weighed down by financial and industrial stocks, as the island nation grapples with the COVID-19 hit to its economy, particularly its tourism sector.

** The CSE All Share Index, which has lost 21.8% this year, closed down 1.06% at 4,795.40.

** Sri Lanka’s tourism regulator said on Sunday it would reopen the tourism sector only in August, denying a media report that said the sector would open in mid-June

** The country attracted around 2 million tourists last year and the sector contributes around 11% to the nation’s gross domestic product.

** Meanwhile, its central bank reported on Monday that the country’s trade deficit in the three months to March widened to $1.85 billion from $1.66 billion in the same period a year earlier.

** March imports and exports also fell, the central bank reported

** Industrial conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc fell 1.8%, while Commercial Bank of Ceylon shed 2.3%. They were among the drags on the index for the session.

** Trading volume on the benchmark index fell to 34.9 million, compared with 38.2 million in the previous session.

** Foreign investors were net buyers, raking in 307.9 million Sri Lankan rupees ($1.66 million) worth of shares, according to exchange data.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was quoted at 186 against the U.S. dollar as of 1214 GMT, 0.1% stronger compared with last session’s close of 186.2, according to Refinitiv data.

** Equity market turnover was 839.9 million Sri Lankan rupees, data showed.

** For a report on global markets, click

** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 186.0000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Derek Francis; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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