Sri Lankan shares slip after downbeat GDP data

Aug 5 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares slipped on Wednesday, dragged by industrial and hotel stocks, after data showed the island nation’s economy contracted in the first quarter of the year.

** The benchmark CSE All Share Index closed down 0.39% at 5,146.44 after hitting a near five-month high earlier in the session.

** Sri Lanka’s economy contracted by 1.6% in the Jan-March quarter, government data showed after markets closed on Tuesday, as lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic battered a country still recovering from last year’s Easter Sunday bomb attacks.

** Citizens streamed into polling centres on Wednesday, braving coronavirus fears, to elect a new parliament that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hopes will clear the way for him to boost his powers.

** Among stocks, investment firm Browns Investments PLC and John Keells Holdings PLC fell 4.4% and 0.9%, respectively, and were among the top drags on the index.

** Asian Hotels and Properties Plc slid 7.9% and marked its worst day since mid July.

** Cigarette maker Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC gained 1.8% and dairy firm Kotmale Holdings PLC advanced 5.4%, helping plug losses on the index.

** Foreign investors were net sellers, offloading 172.5 million Sri Lankan rupees ($930,169.86) worth of shares, according to exchange data.

** Trading volume on the CSE All Share Index fell to 30.4 million shares from 98.7 million in the previous session.

** Equity market turnover was 603.8 million Sri Lankan rupees.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was last quoted at 185.45 against the dollar as of 1222 GMT, according to Refinitiv data.

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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 185.4500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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