Sri Lankan shares end at one-month high on post-poll stability hopes

COLOMBO, July 15 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares hit a one-month high on Wednesday, led by large-caps and banks, as hopes of political stability after the Aug. 17 parliamentary elections improved sentiment.

On Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena criticised a comeback bid by Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he beat in elections last January, and his own allies for backing him to become prime minister.

Analysts see Sirisena’s statement as a step towards strengthening his grip and likely to help the ruling coalition win at the polls.

The ruling United National Party (UNP) has formed a coalition with some other parties to contest the election. Political analysts say the alliance could increase the ruling party’s chances of winning.

The main stock index ended up 0.56 percent, or 39.19 points, at 7,066.19, its highest close since June 15.

"The president’s speech would have helped the index to move up. The tendency is for the same government to continue which means continuity of policies," said Dimantha Mathew, a research manager at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

The day’s turnover was 833.3 million rupees ($6.2 million), lower than this year’s daily average of 1.05 billion rupees.

"Institutional and high net worth investors are slowly coming into the market," Mathew added.

Carson Cumberbatch Plc rose 0.76 percent, while the biggest listed Lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc gained 1.03 percent, pushing up the overall index.

Distiller Sri Lanka Plc jumped 3.96 percent, while Sri Lanka Telecom Plc rose 0.42 percent.

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