Shares close lower as Colombo comes to a standstill

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) closed lower today as the Joint Opposition held a massive protest rally in Colombo with an estimated 200,000 participants, with businesses, shops and schools closing by noon to avoid traffic congestion.

Losses in the Information Technology, Construction & Engineering and Beverages & Tobacco sectors resulted in the CSE All-Share declining 0.13% while advancing stocks outnumbered falling ones by 99 to 76 and 52 ended unchanged.

The biggest gainers of the session were Associated Motor Finance Company PLC (CM:ASSO), which rose 24.25% or 97.00 points to trade at 497.00 at the close. Blue Diamonds Jewellery Worldwide PLC (CM:BLUE) added 16.67% or 0.100 points to end at 0.700 and Hunter & Company PLC (CM:HUNT) was up 14.66% or 61.20 points to 478.70 in late trade.

Biggest losers included Horana Plantations PLC (CM:HOPL), which lost 11.48% or 2.40 points to trade at 18.50 in late trade. Nation Lanka Finance PLC (CM:CSF) declined 11.11% or 0.100 points to end at 0.800 and Nanda Investments and Finance PLC (CM:NAND) shed 10.79% or 5.20 points to 43.00.

In commodities trading, Crude oil for October delivery was down 1.40% or 0.98 to $68.89 a barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil for delivery in November fell 1.10% or 0.86 to hit $77.31 a barrel, while the December Gold Futures contract rose 0.07% or 0.80 to trade at $1199.90 a troy ounce.

Meanwhile, the rupee hit a new record low for a 12th straight session, tracking weakness in emerging markets stocks and currencies, while rising demand for the greenback from importers also weighed.

The rupee touched 162.25 per dollar as currencies and stocks in emerging markets were pressured on news that South Africa had slipped into recession and concerns about inflation in Turkey and the Philippines.

The rupee closed at 162.20/30 per dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 161.95/162.05.

(Analysis by Reuters and