March 20, 2018 / 12:00 PM / 6 months ago

Sri Lankan stocks extend fall on growth worries

COLOMBO, March 20 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a second straight session on Tuesday and posted their lowest close in seven weeks in low trade, as investors sold diversified and beverage stocks on worries over slower economic growth, brokers said.

The statistics department withdrew its 2017 full-year and fourth-quarter GDP data on Friday, a day after saying the economy expanded 3.1 percent last year, the slowest pace in 16 years, and 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.48 percent to 6,462.50, its lowest close since Jan. 29. It dropped 0.6 percent last week in its third straight weekly decline.

“It’s a slow day with both local and foreign investors taking a wait-and-see approach,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

He said investors took a pause due to confusion following the withdrawal of GDP data and ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision.

Turnover was 286.7 million rupees ($1.84 million), the lowest since Feb. 19 and less than a third of this year’s daily average of around 942.3 million rupees.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc dropped 2.6 percent, Nestle Lanka Plc fell 0.5 percent and Sri Lanka Telecom Plc declined 2.2 percent.

Foreign investors sold a net 27.8 million rupees worth of shares, but they have been net buyers of 7.2 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 156.0500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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