Sri Lankan shares edge up as investors buy battered blue chips

COLOMBO, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares closed slightly higher on Thursday, snapping two straight sessions of falls, as investors picked up battered blue chips while net foreign buying also boosted sentiment.

Investors await clarity on interest rates from the Central Bank’s first monetary policy in 2017 scheduled on Tuesday.

The Colombo Stock Index ended up 0.15 percent at 6,139.56, while turnover was Rs1.09 billion ($7.26 million), higher than this year’s daily average of Rs645 million.

"People are looking at cheap stocks and collecting," said Reshan Kurukulasuriya, chief operating officer of Richard Pieris Securities (Pvt) Ltd. "Investors collect stocks at these levels when they see a stock as attractive."

Foreign investors, who have been net sellers of Rs1.62 billion worth of shares so far this year, net bought Rs27.1 million worth of equities on Thursday.

Shares of Nestle Lanka Plc rose 2.48 percent; Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, the country’s biggest listed lender, climbed 1.82 percent; and conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc gained 0.43 percent.

Sri Lankan shares have been on a declining trend recently due to political uncertainty arising from a decision by the ruling coalition parties to contest local polls separately and on worries over a rise in market interest rates with yields on 91-day treasury bills hitting near four-year highs this week.

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