March 27, 2018 / 12:15 PM / a year ago

Sri Lankan stocks fall to lowest close in nine weeks

COLOMBO, March 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell on Tuesday to their lowest close in nine weeks as negative sentiment over the island nation’s slower economic growth continued to weigh on the market.

However, foreign investors bought a net 477.1 million rupees ($3.06 million) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 7.4 billion rupees worth of equities.

The Colombo stock index closed 0.13 percent weaker at 6,440.43, at its lowest close since Jan. 23.

The bourse fell 1 percent last week, its fourth straight weekly drop.

Sri Lanka’s economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2017, the slowest pace in 16 years and well below the 4.5 percent seen in 2016, revised government data released last week showed.

“Most investors are on the sidelines waiting for the central bank’s interest rate decision in April,” said Reshan Kurukulasuriya, chief operating officer, Richard Pieris Securities (Pvt) Ltd.

“But we can see some block trades taking place while foreign investors are also collecting.”

Turnover was 865.9 million rupees ($5.55 million), less than this year’s daily average of around 955 million rupees.

Shares in Ceylon Cold Stores Plc fell 3.9 percent, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended 0.4 percent weaker and Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc ended 0.8 percent down.

Analysts said an increase in retail fuel prices also weighed on investor sentiment.

Sri Lankan fuel retailer Lanka IOC Plc, which fell 1.6 percent in the session, raised retail prices for gasoline and diesel over the weekend due to losses incurred after the government’s failure to implement a pricing formula. ($1 = 156.0000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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