Sri Lankan shares extend falls, foreign investors cut holdings in John Keells

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COLOMBO, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares fell for a fourth straight session on Wednesday, as foreign investors pared holdings in market heavyweight John Keells Holdings amid global worries.

Lacklustre corporate results also hit investor appetite for riskier assets, analysts said.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.43 percent to 6,086.74, its lowest close since July 10. It has declined about 4.2 percent so far this year.

Turnover was 238.2 million rupees ($1.49 million) on Wednesday, less than a third of this year’s daily average of 833.1 million rupees.

“Foreign selling in Keells dragged the index and there was no market moving news. Retail and institutional investors were not in the market and we saw very low turnover,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO at Acuity Stockbrokers.

Poor earnings in the June quarter and possible loose fiscal policies in the upcoming budget to woo voters ahead of next year provincial council and presidential polls also hurt investor sentiment, some other brokers said.

Equities in emerging markets broadly struggled after signs China’s economy was cooling further, with fixed-asset investment growth in January-July at its slowest pace since at least 1996.

Foreign investors sold shares worth a net 125.3 million rupees on Wednesday, extending the foreign outflow to a net 2.76 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Shares in John Keells, which accounted for more than 50 percent of the day’s turnover, fell 0.4 percent, while BRAC Lanka Finance slumped 17.4 percent.

The central bank left its key policy rates unchanged, as expected, on Aug. 3, citing its goals of stabilising inflation and fostering sustainable economic growth.

Central bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said the economy was unlikely to grow more than 4 percent in 2018, falling short of an earlier estimate of 5 percent. ($1 = 160.0500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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