(Colombo) REUTERS: Sri Lankan shares closed slightly firmer yesterday and extended gains into a fifth session, but trading volume slumped to a near five-month low amid worries over economic slowdown and lack of investor appetite for risky assets.
Traders said the Easter day bombings and aftermath violence weighed on investor sentiment. Most investors have shied away from the market since the April 21 bombings that killed more than 250 people.
Sri Lanka is unlikely to hit its full-year economic growth target of 3-4 percent following the Easter Sunday bombings, junior finance minister Eran Wickremeratne told Reuters on Tuesday.
A Reuters poll has predicted the growth to slump to its lowest in nearly two decades this year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on May 14 approved the disbursal of a US$164 million tranche of a loan programme, bringing the total disbursed to more than US$1.16 billion.
The benchmark stock index ended 0.19 percent firmer yesterday at 5,305.80. It fell 1.28 percent last week.
Turnover was Rs.83.5 million (US$473,490), the lowest since Jan. 4 and well below this year’s daily average of around Rs.552.6 million. Last year’s daily average was Rs.834 million. Foreign investors sold a net Rs.8.4 million worth of shares yesterday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to Rs.5.8 billion worth of equities.
The rupee ended 0.2 percent firmer at 176.30/45 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 176.65/80, on exporter dollar sales, market sources said.
Analysts, however, expect the currency to weaken as money flows out of stocks and government securities.
The rupee gained 0.1 percent last week and is up 3.4 percent for the year. Exporters had converted dollars as investor confidence stabilised after a US$1 billion sovereign bond was repaid in mid-January.
The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018 and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia.
Foreign investors sold a net Rs.433.2 million worth of government securities in the week ended May 15, extending net foreign outflow to Rs.21.2 billion so far this year, Central Bank data showed.
Investor sentiment was damaged at the end of last year when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move unconstitutional, but the political turmoil led to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds.