REUTERS: Sri Lankan shares closed at a near three-week high yesterday in dull trade as cautious investors selectively bought risk assets, while foreign investors exited amid a rise in yields of government securities.
Uncertainty over a capital gains tax and economic growth, and a higher budget deficit also hurt market sentiment, analysts said.
Foreign investors sold Rs.137.5 million worth of shares yesterday, extending the net foreign outflow so far this year to Rs.1.79 billion worth of shares.
The benchmark share index ended 0.51 percent, or 30.78 points higher, at 6,088.57, its highest close since March 1. “Nothing much is happening. Overall, everything is very dull with holidays in-between, and investors are worried over the uncertainties,” said First Capital Equities (Pvt.) Ltd Head of Research Dimantha Mathew. Markets will be closed today and Friday for local holidays.
Investors preferred fixed interest-rate bearing assets over shares due to a rise in yields on treasury bills, which are hovering at more than two-year highs, and on the Central Bank’s unexpected interest rate hike in mid-February, dealers said.
Yields on T-bills jumped by 62-90 basis points at a weekly auction yesterday to 29-month highs.
Sri Lanka will raise its value-added tax and reintroduce capital gains tax to break out of a debt trap, ahead of talks on a US $ 1.5-billion loan it is seeking from the International Monetary Fund.
Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2016, data from the state statistics office showed, but analysts say tight monetary and fiscal policies may curb growth.
The US $ 82.2-billion economy expanded at a sluggish 2.5 percent in the December quarter, down from an upwardly revised 5.6 percent in the previous quarter.
Analysts and economists worry slower growth could reduce corporate earnings of some listed firms.
Turnover stood at Rs.466.5 million, well below this year’s daily average of Rs.787.8 million. Shares in Carson Cumberbatch PLC jumped 15.57 percent while Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC rose 1.33 percent. Distilleries
Company of Sri Lanka PLC climbed 2.57 percent.