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Stocks flat, supported by retail buyers

Sep 2, 2011 3:24:29 PM - www.ft.lk

COLOMBO (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s stock market ended flat on Friday, as strong interest from retail investors offset concerns over a lack of liquidity.     The island nation’s main share index edged down 0.01 percent or 0.89 of a point at 6,950.61, from its highest close since 19 August.

“The indices held on to the week’s gains, edging only marginally lower, with retail volumes on speculative counters continuing to dominate the day’s activity,” John Keells stock brokers said in a note to investors.

The bourse is Asia’s best performer so far this year, with a return of 4.74 percent, followed by the Philippines’ 4.56 percent.
Speculative trading in jeweller Blue Diamonds’ voting and non-voting BLUEt.CM stock drove them up 27.3 percent and 19.4 percent in heavy trade. Analysts said retail investors had piled in after a big purchase from an institutional investor. Both shares collectively accounted for 21.6 percent of the day’s turnover and 35.5 percent of the volume.
          
 Analysts said many investors, however, were staying out of the market on liquidity concerns following interventions by the Securities and Exchange Commission restricting brokers’ credit, even though those restrictions had been eased.
The bourse saw a foreign inflow of 45.9 million rupees on Friday, but thus far in 2011, offshore investors have sold 10.50 billion rupees.
The day’s turnover was 3 billion Sri Lanka rupees ($27 million), above the year’s average of 2.7 billion.     Gainers outperformed losers by 112 to 99, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Friday’s total volume was 303 million shares, its highest since 9 June and compared with a five-day average of 150.5 million. The 30-day and 90-day average trading volumes were 112.2 million and 121.8 million.     The rupee ended flat at 109.98/110.00 per dollar.

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