(EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan stocks rose almost one percent Tuesday with turnover topping two billion rupees in a broad-based rally just two days ahead of crucial presidential polls in which the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa, faces a stiff challenge.
The All Share Price Index rose 71.75 points (0.98 percent) to 7,420.14 while the S&P SL20 index, which tracks the top 20 largest and most liquid stocks on the Colombo Stock Exchange, went up 39.94 points (0.97 percent) to reach 4,150.24.
Turnover went up to just over two billion rupees with two crossings or off-market negotiated deals in heavyweight John Keells Holdings (JKH) and trading in 10 other stocks whose turnover crossed the 50 million-rupee mark each.
"Market activity was very high today," said Radhika Ratnayake, research manager at Lanka Securities.
"It was a broad-based market movement. Almost all shares went up and many touched a 52-week high. We think this was a continuation of last Friday’s trend when the market moved up notably."
She said she believes stocks rallied since the uncertainty generated last November by the announcement of a snap presidential poll two years ahead of schedule was coming to an end.
The market, which went up 22 percent in 2014, turned volatile as Rajapaksa’s call for a poll was followed immediately by a series of defections from his ruling party that has seriously weakened his chances of re-election in the January 8 election.
He is being challenged by his own former health minister and party general secretary Maithripala Sirisena who quit with several other ministers to become the joint opposition presidential candidate backed by a broad coalition of opposition parties.
"Almost all the blue chips and mid-caps moved up today," Ratnayake said.
There was heavy trading in Access Engineering which ended at 34.80 rupees, up 2.30 (7.08 percent.
JKH topped the turnover list because of two crossings and trading on the normal board.
JKH added 372 million rupees to the day’s turnover and ended at 245 rupees, down three (1.21 percent). There were two crossings with a total value of 156 million rupees.