Sri Lankan shares rise on blue chips; foreign outflow hits 7-mth high

COLOMBO, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan stocks hit a one-week closing high on Thursday, led by bluechips, as investors picked up beaten down counters, even as foreign investor outflow touched a seven-month high, mainly due to selling shares of National Development Bank.

The benchmark index of the Colombo Stock Exchange ended 0.21 percent higher at 6,464.94, its highest close since September 15.

"The index turned green today with sudden buying interest in bluechip counters," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd. "Buying interest is there mainly in diversified shares."

Foreign investors sold a net 6.38 million shares in National Development Bank, ahead of a change in its top management, Mathew said. NDB ended 1 percent higher.

Foreign outflow hit its highest since February 19 as offshore investors sold a net Rs867.8 million ($5.95 million) worth of equities on Thursday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to Rs2.94 billion worth of shares.

Turnover stood at Rs2.09 billion, more than twice this year’s daily average of Rs752.3 million.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc rose 0.9 percent, while Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc gained 1.3 percent, driving the overall index higher.

The bourse hit a more than a seven-week low on Tuesday as selling pressure on stocks that were expected to take a hit from a proposed tax increase weighed on sentiment.

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