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Sri Lanka stock index posts worst fall in over seven years after Easter attacks

FILE PHOTO: A broker is pictured near a computer screen showing movements in the stock market (top graph) since the morning opening at the Colombo Stock Exchange February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

COLOMBO (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan stock index dived 3.63 percent on Tuesday, its worst plunge in more than seven years, due to retail panic selling in its first trading day after Easter Sunday attacks killed more than 300 people.

**Islamic state has claimed responsibility for coordinated bombings which killed 321 people and injured about 500 others, the group's AMAQ news agency said on Tuesday.

**"Investors are worried and waiting until the cloudy conditions ease off," said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO, Softlogic Stockbrokers.

** Bomb jitters continued on Tuesday with police warning the public of explosives-laid vehicles. An explosion went off on Monday in a van near a church in Sri Lanka where scores were killed the previous day, when bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it, a Reuters witness said.


** The benchmark stock index fell 3.63 percent on Tuesday to 5,402.58, its worst percentage fall since Feb. 14, 2012. The exchange was closed on Monday following the Sunday's attack.

** Turnover came in at 226.9 million rupees ($1.30 million), more than this year's daily average of 588.4 million rupees. Last year's daily average was 834 million rupees.

** Foreign investors sold a net 39.6 million rupees worth of shares on Tuesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 6.03 billion rupees worth of equities.


** The latest instability comes after the island nation plunged into political turmoil in October last year when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move was unconstitutional, and Wickremesinghe was reinstalled as premier.

** Investor sentiment took a big hit as a result of the 51-day political crisis, leading to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds from government securities.

** The impact of the latest instability after the explosions is yet to be seen, analysts said.


**The Sri Lankan rupee ended steady in dull trade.

** Investors kept away due to a night curfew declared since Sunday. It was lifted at 0400 hours on Tuesday, but the government has again declared curfew from 2100 hours.

** The currency ended at 174.60/70 to a dollar, weaker than Thursday's close of 173.95/174.25, market sources said. The markets were closed on Friday for a public holiday.

** The island nation's currency gained 0.3 percent last week, and 4.6 percent so far this year, as exporters converted dollars amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January.

** Analysts expect both stocks and rupee to plunge after the Ester Sunday attacks.

** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows.

** Foreign investors sold a net 6.6 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended April 17, the third weekly fall in seven weeks, the latest central bank data showed.


(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez, Editing by William Maclean)