Sri Lankan shares fell for the second straight session on Monday (27) in thin trading volume amid worries over an economic slowdown and lack of investor appetite for risky assets.
Traders said the Easter day bombings and aftermath violence weighed on investor sentiment. Most investors have shied away from the market since the April 21 bombings that killed more than 250 people.
Sri Lanka is unlikely to hit its full-year economic growth target of 3-4 per cent following the Easter Sunday bombings, junior finance minister Eran Wickremeratne told Reuters on Tuesday (28). A Reuters poll has predicted the growth to slump to its lowest in nearly two decades this year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on May 14 approved the disbursal of a $164 million tranche of a loan programme, bringing the total disbursed to more than $1.16 billion.
The benchmark stock index ended 0.07 per cent weaker on Monday at 5,291.49. It rose 0.67 per cent last week, recording its first weekly gain in three. The bourse has fallen 12.6 per cent so far this year.
Turnover was 444.6 million rupees ($2.52 million), less than this year’s daily average of around 548.6 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees.
Foreign investors bought a net 183.1 million rupees worth of shares on Monday, but they have been net sellers of 5.7 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.
The rupee ended slightly firmer at 176.20/30 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 176.30/45, market sources said.
Analysts, however, expect the currency to weaken as money flows out of stocks and government securities.
The rupee fell 0.23 per cent last week but is up 3.6 per cent for the year. Exporters had converted dollars as investor confidence stabilised after a $1 billion sovereign bond was repaid in mid-January.
The rupee dropped 16 per cent in 2018 and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia.
Foreign investors bought a net 2.1 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended May 22, but the island nation saw a net foreign outflow of 19.1 billion rupees so far this year, central bank data showed.
Investor sentiment was damaged at the end of last year when president Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move unconstitutional, but the political turmoil led to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds.