Sri Lankan shares edge up; foreign investors exit Keells

COLOMBO, June 17 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged up on Wednesday, helped by index heavyweight John Keells, which managed to eke out gains despite heavy foreign selling, while local investors were cautious ahead of a parliamentary election.

The main stock index ended 0.07 percent or 5.11 points up at 7,049.71, edging up from its two-month low hit on Tuesday.

The market saw net foreign outflow of 786.7 million rupees ($5.87 million), extending net foreign outflow for the past 16 sessions to 3.32 billion rupees. The bourse, however, has seen net inflows of 2.62 billion rupees into equities so far in 2015.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, which saw a net foreign outflow of 5.1 million shares on Wednesday, ended 0.98 percent firmer, helping the overall index to end higher.

Analysts said foreign investors have been selling shares amid expectations the U.S. would hike key interest rates sooner than expected.

"Except strategic deals, there was low retail participation due to the political uncertainty," said Reshan Wediwardana, research analyst at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

Analysts said investors are confused because there was no direction on interest rates, economic policies, and the date on the elections.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s government has said it would dissolve parliament once some crucial reforms, including an electoral bill, are passed, but is yet to fix a date for the election.

Wednesday’s turnover was 2.14 billion rupees, its highest since May 20 and well above this year’s daily average of about 1.11 billion rupees.





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