December 7, 2017 / 12:13 PM / in a year

Sri Lankan shares steady at near 3-month low

COLOMBO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed steady on Thursday, after three straight losing sessions, as gains led by financials were offset by losses in mid-cap stocks.

The Colombo Stock Index firmed 0.03 percent at 6,382.95, hovering around a near three-month closing low hit in the previous session.

Sampath Bank and Commercial Bank of Ceylon gained 1.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, while shares in Asian Hotels and Properties Plc fell 6.7 percent.

“We see a typical year-end market. Foreign investor interest continues,” said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO at Softlogic Stockbrokers.

Foreign trade accounted for 56 percent of the day’s turnover worth 986 million rupees ($6.43 million), higher than this year’s daily average of 944.4 million rupees.

Foreign investors, who have been net buyers of 18.57 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year, were net sellers of equities worth 37.5 million rupees on Thursday.

Worries over a delay in local council polls and a lack of clarity over the budget and two other key policy measures weighed on sentiment, analysts said.

The Election Commission said on Monday that the council polls would be held before Feb. 17, amid concerns over political stability as coalition partners in President Maithripala Sirisena’s government had decided to contest separately in the council polls.

Investors are also seeking more clarity on new taxes imposed in the 2018 budget presented last month, analysts said, adding there could be some amendments before the final budget vote scheduled for Dec. 9. ($1 = 153.3500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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