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Sri Lankan shares hit 2-month closing low on foreign selling
November 24, 2017 / 11:45 AM / 19 days ago

Sri Lankan shares hit 2-month closing low on foreign selling

COLOMBO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell to a near two-month closing low on Friday on foreign selling, while investors waited for clarity on new taxes introduced in the national budget and on key legislations.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.66 percent weaker at 6,413.68, its lowest close since Sept. 26. The index fell 1.1 percent during the week, but is still up 3 percent for the year so far.

Turnover stood at 596.4 million rupees on Friday, less than this year’s average of around 953.3 million rupees.

“It is turning into a typical year-end market. But, we expect to see foreign activity supporting the market. They see value in some select shares,” said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO at Softlogic Stockbrokers.

Foreign investors net sold equities worth 117.5 million rupees ($764,476) on Friday, but they have bought a net 18.4 billion rupees worth of stocks so far this year.

Top fixed-line phone operator Sri Lanka Telecom fell 5.4 percent and Lion Brewery Ceylon Plc lost 4.9 percent, dragging the overall index down.

Analysts said political worries over delay in local government polls and a lack of clarity over budget and two other key policy measures also weighed on sentiment.

A court on Wednesday issued a stay order on a legislation that cleared the island nation’s Election Commission to hold local government polls in which the coalition partners of the government have decided to contest separately.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera imposed new taxes on motor vehicles, telecoms, banks and liquor in the 2018 budget presented earlier this month, with the final budget vote scheduled for Dec. 9.

Analysts said market participants have sought more clarity on these taxes and that there could be some amendments to these proposals before the final vote.

The government also released gazette notifications on the Inland Revenue Act and the Exchange Control Act, with investors waiting for clarification on the new legislations. ($1 = 153.7000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan)

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