Sri Lanka stocks end flat as blue chips drag; rupee slips

(Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended nearly flat on Thursday pulled down by weakness in blue chips such as conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc in dull trade, while the rupee fell on importers’ dollar demand, market sources said. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.06% weaker at 5,345.13, hovering near its lowest closing level since June 11 hit on Tuesday, with John Keells making the biggest dent as it fell 0.72%. ** The index fell 0.38% last week and is down 11.69% so far this year. ** Foreigners sold on a net basis for the 13th session out of the last 14, the bourse data showed. ** Thursday’s stock market turnover was 337.04 million rupees ($1.91 million), well below this year’s daily average of about 547.3 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors sold a net 43.6 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 6.28 billion rupees. ** The currency edged down at 176.55/65 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 176.50/60, market sources said. The rupee is up 3.43% for the year. ** The island nation raised $2 billion via 5-year and 10-year sovereign bond sales, its central bank said on Tuesday, tapping global capital markets for the second time in three months. ** Analysts expect the rupee to weaken further as money flows out of stocks and government securities. ** The rupee dropped 16% in 2018 and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia. ** Foreign investors bought a net 879.6 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended June 19, but the island nation’s net foreign outflow was at 20.7 billion rupees so far this year, the central bank data showed. ** The central bank cut its key interest rates on May 31 to support a faltering economy as overall business and consumer confidence slumped following deadly bomb attacks in April. ** Sri Lanka is unlikely to hit its full-year economic growth target of 3-4% following the bombings, junior Finance Minister Eran Wickramaratne told Reuters last month. A Reuters poll has forecast growth to slump to its lowest in nearly two decades this year. 

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