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Sri Lankan shares hit more than 1-wk closing low as rising rates weigh

COLOMBO, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares hit a more than one-week closing low on Tuesday, their fourth straight session of losses, as investors sold shares of blue chip companies such as John Keells Holdings Plc amid concerns over rising interest rates.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.2 percent to 6,127.49, slipping to its lowest close since Feb. 9.

"We have seen some interest on retail sector counters," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd. "Investors are mainly waiting for some positive news and now watching the direction of the fixed-income segment."

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

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc dropped 0.6 percent, while Ceylon Tea Services Plc fell 11.1 percent.

Turnover stood at 300.4 million rupees ($1.99 million), less than half this year’s daily average of 616.2 million rupees.

Foreign investors net bought 19.9 million rupees worth of equities on Tuesday, but have net sold 252.8 million rupees worth shares so far this year.

Investors are expected to wait for direction from the outcome of a sovereign bond issue, analysts said.

The Sri Lankan cabinet last week approved a $1.5 billion sovereign bond issue to repay loans and manage interest payments.





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