COLOMBO, March 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares crawled higher on Monday from their lowest close in more than eight weeks as blue chip stocks gained, but negative sentiment over the island nation’s slower economic growth weighed on the market.
The Colombo stock index closed 0.08 percent firmer at 6,448.60, edging up from its lowest close since Jan. 24 hit on Friday.
The bourse fell 1 percent last week, its fourth straight weekly drop.
Sri Lanka’s economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2017, the slowest pace in 16 years and well below the 4.5 percent seen in 2016, revised government data released last week showed.
Investors are waiting for the central bank’s interest rate decision in April, said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.
Turnover was 1.6 billion rupees ($10.3 million), more than this year’s daily average of around 956.6 million rupees.
Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc rose 0.8 percent, while Ceylinco Insurance Plc ended 2.3 percent firmer and biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc gained 0.1 percent.
Foreign investors sold a net 354.9 million rupees worth of shares, but they have been net buyers of 6.9 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.
Analysts said an increase in retail fuel prices also weighed on investor sentiment.
Sri Lankan fuel retailer Lanka IOC Plc raised retail prices for gasoline and diesel, the company said on Saturday, due to losses incurred after the government’s failure to implement a pricing formula. ($1 = 156.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)