Sri Lankan shares edge up; budget awaited

COLOMBO, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged up on Wednesday for a second straight session, led by blue-chip stocks, but trading volume was low as investors waited for direction from the budget later this week.

The main stock index ended 0.06 percent, or 4.02 points, firmer at 6,981.97.

"Select strategic buying was there on lower scale," said Dimantha Mathew, research manager at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

Brokers said investors were also waiting for policy direction from the annual budget scheduled later this week.

Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake will seek to boost tax revenues and rationalise spending in the new government’s first full-year budget on Friday, but analysts see him showing little commitment to fiscal consolidation.

The days turnover was at 534.8 million rupees ($3.8 million) on Wednesday, less than this year’s daily average of 1.1 billion rupees.

Gains in Lion Brewery Plc and Sampath Bank Plc outpaced losses in biggest-listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, which fell 1 percent. The market heavyweight John Keells Holding Plc fell 0.3 percent.

Foreign investors, who had sold a net 3.57 billion rupee worth of equities so far this year, were net buyers of 56.04 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday.

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