Sri Lankan shares edge up as investors pick up bank stocks

COLOMBO, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares rose slightly on Wednesday from a more than one-week closing low hit in the previous session as investors bought banking shares, but concerns over rising interest rates weighed on sentiment.

Yields on treasury bills rose 3-10 basis points at a weekly auction on Tuesday. They have risen 44-73 basis points since Oct. 7 to more than four-year highs, while the central bank has kept key policy rates on hold.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.04 percent firmer at 6,129.69, snapping a four-session losing streak and edging up from its lowest close since Feb. 9 hit on Tuesday.

"Some crossings in blue chips boosted the turnover. Other than that, there was nothing and the market was very dull as investors are still on the sidelines," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Selling pressure is there, but there are no buyers."

Shares in Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc rose 4.18 percent, while Nestle Lanka Plc, which posted a 42 percent rise in profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31, climbed 2.02 percent.

Turnover stood at 482.7 million rupees ($3.19 million), well below this year’s daily average of 612.5 million rupees.

Foreign investors net bought 37.8 million rupees worth of equities on Wednesday, but they have net sold 215 million rupees worth shares so far this year.

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