The stock market on the back of the rise in prices of speculative/manipulative stocks, saw the benchmark ASI gain by 66 points (1.3%) to finish at 5,180.15 points and the more sensitive MPI by 55.94 points (1.2%) to 4,811.99 points at Thursday’s trading (over that of the previous day Wednesday’s close) on a Rs. 554 million turnover, with a modest Rs. 20.41 million net foreign inflow (NFI) to boot, according to stock market statistics.
The party, sooner or later will be over, a market source told this newspaper, referring to the gains made by the bourse last week, which he attributed to alleged market manipulation. “Blue chips were however quiet,” he said.
But why then did the MPI, which reflects the prices of blue chips, then make gains, this reporter asked?
“That is because blue chips are not reflected on the MPI,” he alleged (see also page 35 and last week’s lead story on the business pages of this newspaper).
The ASI and the MPI last week, week on week gained by 167.31 (3.3%) and 175.46 points (3.8%) respectively. Friday was a Poya Holiday for the bourse.
“What is however ominous is the recent appointment as a commissioner to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of a person who is a director of a company where its stockbroking subsidiary is allegedly being investigated for malpractice and the removal of Sujeewa Mudalige as an SEC commissioner only a day after he was reappointed to that post,” the source said.
Mudalige, who previously was a commissioner due to his earlier capacity as Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka President was allegedly another person who was pushing for investigations against market manipulators (see also the lead story on the business pages of this newspaper’s last week’s publication).
“His removal as a commissioner and the appointment of a controversial person to the SEC Commission by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is a clear signal to the market and to everybody else that GoSL doesn’t want those investigations to continue,” he said.
The other controversial appointment is that of the successor to former SEC Chairman Thilak Karunaratne (who was also recently kicked out for pursuing investigations against market manipulators), with some of the companies in which the newly incumbent SEC Chairman also serves as a director, which “peculiar” price movements of such shares were also the basis of current investigations by the SEC.
Meanwhile Internal transfers of Blue chip Aitken Spence, a company controlled by business magnate Don Harold Stassen Jayawardena, contributed Rs. 2.5 billion of the Rs. 3.1 billion turnover the bourse experienced at Tuesday’s (August 28) trading, the source said.
The rest came from manipulated stocks which also helped to push up market indices by 29.55 points (0.58%), ie the benchmark ASI and the more sensitive MPI by 29.52 points (0.62%) over the previous day Monday’s close, he said.
The market experienced a marginal Rs. 16.53 million NFI on that day.
The following day Wednesday, on a modest Rs. 444.12 million turnover and a Rs. 7.73 million NFI, the ASI rose by 11.50 points (0.23%) and the MPI by 2.51 points (0.05%).
In a rising interest rate regime, such as that which is prevailing in the island currently, it makes sense for investors to block their money in fixed income instruments rather than in the stock marketMeanwhile the market at the beginning of last week on Monday, on a modest Rs. 454.26 million turnover, saw the ASI gain by 60.26 points (1.2%) and the MPI by 87.49 points (1.89%) on a Rs. 42.46 million NFI (see also the business editorial found on page 35)