November 15, 2017 / 1:10 PM / a year ago

Sri Lankan stocks hit 7-week closing low; John Keells drags

COLOMBO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a fifth straight session on Wednesday, posting their lowest close in seven weeks, pulled down by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings amid continued worries over 2018 budget policies.

The budget imposed taxes on cash-rich telecom and banking sectors to boost revenue.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.45 percent weaker at 6,428.83, its lowest close since Sept. 27. It slipped 2.6 percent in the last five sessions.

“Keells dragged the index down. The market is still awaiting some clarity on budget policies,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO, Acuity Stockbrokers.

Foreign investors, however, net bought shares worth 280 million rupees ($1.82 million), extending the net foreign inflow into equities to 19.4 billion rupees so far this year.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera imposed new taxes on motor vehicles, telecoms, banks and liquor in a bid to boost revenues in its 2018 budget outlined on Thursday, as the budget deficit for the current year slipped to 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product.

Samaraweera imposed taxes on telecom towers and text messages, and introduced a debt repayment levy of 20 cents per 1,000 rupee bank transaction with effect from April 1 next year.

The turnover on Wednesday was 928.6 million rupees, less than this year’s average of around 954.4 million rupees.

Shares in John Keells, which accounted for 82.8 percent of the day’s turnover, ended 2.5 percent down.

$1 = 153.7500 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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