Sri Lankan shares close at 5-mth high; turnover hits 2-1/2 mth peak

COLOMBO, July 29 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares gained more than 0.7 percent in high turnover on Wednesday, closing at their five-month peak, as expectations of strong corporate earnings and political stability after the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls lifted investor sentiment.

Turnover rose to 3.65 billion rupees ($27.32 million), its highest since May 14 and well above this year’s daily average of 1.09 billion rupees, on block deals.

The main stock index ended firmer 0.73 percent, or 52.90 points, at 7,313.97, its highest since Feb. 26.

"Trading was dominated by heavyweights, while block deals pushed the turnover higher," said Dimantha Mathew, a research manager at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Market is very positive, specially on the earnings. We expect the market to continue the uptrend."

Gains were led by large caps. Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc rose 2.85 percent after it reported a 16.6 percent rise in net profit for the April-June quarter, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc gained 1.69 percent.

Dealers said block deals in Ceylinco Insurance Company Plc , which ended 0.17 percent weaker, boosted turnover and foreign trade.

Foreign investors, who have bought a net 1.4 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year, were net buyers of 1.95 billion rupees on Wednesday.

Analysts expect local companies to post strong results for the April-June quarter.

Expectations of political stability after the Aug. 17 parliament elections also helped sentiment, they said.

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