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Sri Lankan stocks end higher in light trade; banks, telcos lead


April 23, 2018

COLOMBO, April 20 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan share index ended slightly firmer in a holiday-shortened trading session on Friday, hovering near a five-week closing high hit earlier in the week, as investors picked up banking and telecommunication shares.

Many market participants continued to stay away due to extended holidays after the Sinhala-Tamil New Year festival last weekend, brokers said.

The market was closed at 0630 GMT on Friday due to a half-a-day bank holiday.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.19 percent firmer at 6,540.97. The index gained 0.88 percent during the week.

“Blue-chip counters pushed the index higher in low trade as most investors are on the sidelines,” said Atchuthan Srirangan, assistant manager – research, First Capital Holdings PLC.

“Some crossings helped to boost the turnover.

Turnover stood at 418.5 million rupees ($2.68 million), less than half of this year’s daily average of 1.1 billion rupees.

Shares of Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc ended 1.5 percent firmer, while Union Bank Plc closed up 4.9 percent and Sri Lanka Telecom Plc ended up 1.8 percent.

The market has been waiting for some political stability after President Maithripala Sirisena suspended parliament until May 8, brokers said.

Foreign investors sold shares worth a net 5.3 million rupees on Friday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 1.28 billion rupees worth of equities.

The central bank unexpectedly cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points early this month, as policy makers sought to revitalise an economy growing at its weakest pace in 16 years and facing heightened political uncertainty.