Sri Lankan shares edge down; banking stocks lead

COLOMBO, April 22 Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:23pm BST

COLOMBO, April 22 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares edged down for a second straight session on Monday, as investors sold banking stocks that have a fair exposure to gold pawn business after prices of the yellow metal plummeted in global markets.

Gold rose on Monday, supported by strong physical buying after its fall last week to the weakest price in two years, but sentiment was shaky as bullion holdings in exchange-traded funds were trimmed to the lowest in three years..

"Banking shares brought the market down," said a stockbroker.

"Investors are worried over gold prices as some banks have a fair exposure to pawning."

Shares in Sampath Bank PLC closed 0.89 percent weaker at 211.60 rupees, while Hatton National Bank PLC fell 0.65 percent to 169.10 rupees.

Shares in the country's biggest listed lender, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, ended flat at 113 rupees.

The main stock index fell 0.17 percent, or 9.82 points, to 5,872.43.

The turnover was at 885.3 million rupees ($7.03 million) on Monday, less than this year's daily average of 964 million rupees.

Foreign investors were net buyers of 390.7 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 8.19 billion rupees. Last year, the bourse saw a net inflow of $303 million.

The market hit a six-month high on Thursday on hopes of an expected fall in interest rates, after Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera and the central bank said official interest rates could ease in May and June.

The rupee edged weaker for a fifth straight session to 126.65/126.85 per dollar, from Friday's close of 125.95/126.00, due to demand from importers for the greenback, currency dealers said. ($1 = 125.9600 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)