November 13, 2017 / 12:42 PM / a year ago

Sri Lankan stocks extend run of declines, hit near 6-week closing low

COLOMBO, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a third straight session on Monday to their lowest close in near six weeks, weighed down by declines in telecom and banking stocks after the island nation targeted both cash-rich sectors in its 2018 budget to boost revenue.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.63 percent weaker at 6,511.55, its lowest close since Oct. 4. Last week it dropped 1 percent.

The market was dominated by foreign investors who accounted for 86 percent of the day’s buying.

The net bought shares worth 570.1 million rupees ($3.71 million), extending the net foreign inflow in equities to 18.7 billion rupees so far this year.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera imposed new taxes on motor vehicles, telecoms, banks and liquor in a bid to boost revenues in its 2018 budget outlined on Thursday, as the budget deficit for the current year slipped to 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product.

Samaraweera imposed taxes on telecom towers and text messages, and introduced a debt repayment levy of 20 cents per 1,000 rupee bank transaction with effect from April 1 next year.

“Retail investors are not clear about the budget. That is the main reason for the fall. Retail investors were not active at all,” said Atchuthan Srirangan, senior research analyst, First Capital Holdings PLC.

“There are several taxes that are not decided if they should be borne by the customers or businesses. But eventually they will be passed to the customers, making cost of living higher.”

He also said the release of the government gazzate notification on new Inland Revenue Act will also weigh on the market in the next few days.”

Turnover was 1.29 billion rupees ($8.40 million) on Monday, more than this year’s average of around 956 million rupees.

The finance minister announced tax concessions worth a monthly 1.5 billion rupees ($9.8 million) on Wednesday to reduce the cost of living and boost consumption.

Top mobile services provider Dialog Axiata dropped 3 percent, while listed private lender Hatton National Bank fell 1.8 percent.

$1 = 153.6000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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