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Sri Lankan shares close at 3-week high; Keells leads


JULY 20, 2018

COLOMBO, July 19 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares rose on Thursday and marked their highest close in nearly three weeks, led by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings, as foreign buying boosted sentiment.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.36 percent firmer at 6,183.02, its highest close since June 29.

“We saw some renewed interest coming into the market with both local and foreign investors returning,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

“Falling commodity prices are also helping.”

Turnover stood at 634.7 million rupees ($3.97 million), less than this year’s daily average of 887.7 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought net equities worth 73.7 million rupees on Thursday, but they have been net sellers of stocks worth 2.6 billion rupees in the year so far.

A downward revision in economic growth estimate by the central bank has also hurt sentiment, analysts said.

Economic growth in 2018 is likely to be between 4 percent and 4.5 percent, falling short of an earlier estimate of 5 percent, Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said earlier this month.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc rose 1.5 percent while biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc gained 2.1 percent and Nestle Lanka Plc ended 2.1 percent higher. ($1 = 160.0000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan)