August 10, 2018 / 12:32 PM / in 2 months

Sri Lankan shares edge down; foreign investors buy John Keells

COLOMBO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended marginally lower on Friday, pulling away from their highest close in more than two weeks, while foreign buying in market heavyweight John Keells Holdings boosted turnover.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.23 percent to 6,141.55 points from its highest close since July 25 hit in the previous session. The index has declined about 3.6 percent so far this year.

Turnover was 432 million rupees ($2.7 million)on Friday, less than half of this year’s daily average of 844.4 million rupees.

“There was foreign buying in Keells. But there was no market moving news and global concerns also had an impact on the sentiment,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO at Acuity Stockbrokers.

A plummeting Turkish lira sent ripples through global equities and emerging markets on Friday, as rising fears of a wider fallout sent investors scurrying for the safety of assets such as the yen and U.S. government bonds.

Foreign investors bought shares worth a net 101.5 million rupees, after having sold a net 2.78 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Shares in Sri Lanka Telecom fell 2.5 percent, while Chevron Lubricants Lanka Plc slid 2.2 percent. However, shares of John Keells, which accounted for nearly a third of the day’s turnover, rose 0.4 percent.

The central bank left its key policy rates unchanged as expected on Friday, 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 = 159.8500 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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