June 5, 2012 / 12:26 PM / 5 years ago

Sri Lanka stocks down 2.8 pct on global econ woes

* Risk-averse foreigners pulls down bourse - dealers

* Bourse sees 43 mln rupee foreign outflow

* Rupee firmer on exporter dlr sales-dealers

COLOMBO, June 5 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks fell 2.8 percent on Tuesday wiping out 20 billion rupees ($152.38 million) in value to hit a 23-month low as domestic and foreign investors sold on both worry global gloom and a weak rupee and the outlook for interest rates.

The main index fell 136.58 points to 4,748.60, its lowest since July 19, 2010, extending its fall to 9.1 percent in the last 11 sessions.

Shares in market heavyweight and top conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC, which saw foreign selling of 324,672 shares, fell 5.7 percent to 173.60 rupees.

Two brokers said foreign outflows were led by risk-averse offshore investors and funds in the face of the debt crisis in Europe and a weaker global economic outlook.

“When the market is coming down like this, foreign investors are also stepping back and watching,” said one of the brokers, who declined to be identified.

European shares and the euro fell as finance chiefs from the world’s major nations prepared to push Europe for faster action on its growing debt crisis and Spain said the euro zone’s fourth biggest economy was shut out of the credit markets.

Foreign investors were net sellers of 43 million rupees worth of Sri Lankan shares on Tuesday but still, the bourse has seen 22.57 billion rupees worth of net foreign inflows this year. The day’s turnover was 286.6 million rupees.

A falling currency and rising interest rate outlook contributed to the grim mood, analysts said.

Yields in Sri Lanka’s 364- day and 91-day T-bills have risen 330 basis points and 233 basis points since the central bank raised policy rates for the first time since 2007 on Feb. 3.

The rupee strengthened to 130.50/60 against the dollar from Friday’s close of 131.00/20 on exporter dollar sales following a weekend media report saying President Mahinda Rajapaksa had told his cabinet that the government should take measures to stabilise the rupee without letting it depreciate further, dealers said.

Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told Reuters that the president, who is also finance minister, had told the cabinet on Friday that the government should be cautious on rumours that the rupee could hit the 150 level.

“As a government, we believe that it will settle down in about six-months between 125-127,” Rambukwella said, referring to the president’s remarks at the cabinet meeting.

Sri Lanka’s central bank said recently it believed the rupee would stabilise at levels stronger than 125 to the dollar. ($1 = 131.2500 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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