Sri Lankan shares end firmer on foreign buying

COLOMBO, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged up on Friday hovering near its more-than-10-week high, hit earlier in the week, as heavy buying by foreign investors in index heavyweight John Keells Holdings Plc boost sentiment.

The benchmark Colombo stock index ended up 0.11 percent, or 7.37 points, at 6,522.14.

Investors hoped that the economic fundamentals would improve after the central bank on July 28 raised its main interest rates by 50 basis points each in a surprise move aimed at curbing stubbornly high credit growth.

"Foreign buying in John Keells buoyed sentiment. We see interest from retail investors as well, though one foreign fund has been exiting during the past few days," said Jaliya Wijeratne, CEO, First Capital Equities.

Foreign investors net bought 154.7 million rupees ($1.06 million) worth of shares, including a net 858,741 shares in John Keells on Friday, extending the net foreign inflow to 1.49 billion rupees worth of equities in the last 13 sessions.

However, they have sold 3.32 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year.

Turnover stood at 725 million rupees, on track with this year’s daily average of around 731.7 million rupees.

Shares in John Keells Holdings Plc gained 0.07 percent while CT Holdings Plc climbed 3.7 percent and Hatton National Bank Plc rose 0.9 percent.

Analysts said investors also shrugged off a Supreme Court order asking the parliament to stop considering a bill to raise the value-added tax as the draft had not followed due process.

The move could put in jeopardy the government’s ambitious fiscal consolidation plan to reduce the budget deficit to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product from last year’s 7.4 percent.





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