Colombo bourse stretched losses for the second straight-session as across the board selling pressure pulled the index to a 20-week low on Thursday. ASI lost 46.62 index points or 0.67% to close at 6,963.37 while the liquid S&P SL 20 index lost 30.61 index points or 0.82% to close at 3,705.00.

Weak post-budget sentiments were seen across the board where out of the 237 stocks traded only 55 managed to close in the positive territory while 133 registered declines. 49 remained unchanged. 26 counters touched 52 week low prices in todays’ trading session.

John Keells Holdings was the most traded stock subsequent to the listing of shares from the warrant conversion. The script hit a low of LKR 183.50 during the session but recovered to close at LKR 186.00 (-1.3%). John Keells Holdings – warrant 23 lost 2.4% to close at LKR 33.20.

Ceylon Cold Stores (LKR 420.00,-3.3%), Cargills (LKR 185.10,-3.1%) and Chevron Lubricants (LKR 350.00,-2.8%) were among the blue-chips that recorded notable declines.

Banks were also out of favor with Nations Trust Bank faring the worst, closing 3.7% below at LKR 83.00, after hitting a fresh 52 week low of LKR 80.00. National Development Bank reached a 52 week low of LKR 197.00 but recovered to close at LKR 198.00 down by 2.6%.Out of the banks, only Seylan Bank (LKR 97.00,+1.4%) managed to post gains today.

While the broader market fell, price increase in select large cap stocks as such Nestle (LKR 2,190.00,+4.3%), Asian Hotels & Properties (LKR 60.00,+2.2%) and Ceylinco Insurance (LKR 1,485.00,+1.2%) gave some support to the index but on thin volume.

Turnover shrank from previous session to LKR 620mn as investors opted to stay on the sidelines amid the rising volatility. Top contributions to the turnover came from John Keells Holdings (LKR 263mn), Access Engineering (LKR 60mn) and Textured Jersey (LKR 30mn).  Only Access Engineering witnessed negotiated trades in todays’ session, where 2.1mn shares changed hands at LKR 23.70. The crossings accounted for mere 8% of the market turnover.

Further, Textured Jersey, Dankotuwa Porcelain and Access Engineering managed to attract investor attention today. Dankotuwa Porcelain rights closed flat at LKR 0.50 on the renunciation day while the voting share closed at LKR 8.70 (+2.4%).

Foreign investors were net buyers of LKR 108mn worth of shares. Foreign activity continued to remain high at 45%.

(Lanka Securities Research)