March 29, 2018 / 12:03 PM / 4 months ago

Sri Lankan stocks edge up as financials lead

COLOMBO, March 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended firmer on Thursday led by financials, edging up from a nine-week closing low hit in the previous session, with block deals boosting turnover on the last trading day of the current fiscal year.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.57 points firmer at 6,476.78, edging up from its lowest closing level since Jan. 23 hit on Wednesday. The markets will be closed on Friday for a holiday.

The index rose 0.51 percent on week, its first weekly gain in five, but has fallen 1.14 percent this month.

“A number of crossings went through today and that helped to push the turnover. Being the last day of the financial year, we saw some window-dressing in some stocks,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

Shares in Sofltogic Holdings Plc rose 10.3 percent, while the biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc ended 1.9 percent.

Ceylinco Insurance Plc climbed 7.4 percent, while Dialog Axiata Plc inched up 0.7 percent.

Turnover stood at 3.5 billion rupees ($22.49 million), well above this year’s daily average of around 1.2 billion rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 2.7 billion rupees worth of shares on Thursday, but they have net sold 2.6 billion rupees worth equities so far this year.

Political uncertainty and worries over a slowing economy weighed on sentiment, brokers said.

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 showed last week.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is facing a no-confidence motion, which will be debated on April 4 before voting, with analysts saying support from many political parties will be needed for Wickremesinghe to clear the vote. ($1 = 155.6000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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