COLOMBO Nov 8 Sri Lankan stocks edged to a three-week high on Thursday without making major gains as President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered 2013 budget proposals.
Rajapaksa, who doubles as finance minister, said plans called for reducing the fiscal deficit to 5.8 percent of GDP in 2013, while attaining 7.5 percent economic growth next year.
The budget also encouraged new listing of shares and debts though tax exemptions. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For details of the budget, see highlights ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The Colombo Stock Exchange's main index rose 0.18 percent, or 9.97 points, to end at 5,580.84, its highest level since Oct.19.
"While there appears to be no significant surprise in the 2013 budget presented today, we expect the market to close the week largely unchanged," DNH Financial said in a note to investors.
Shares of John Keells Holdings PLC gained 0.28 percent to 213.90 rupees.
"We are positive on the capital market, but as far as the rest of the economy is concerned, we are not that confident," a stockbroker said on condition of anonymity.
Turnover was 539.2 million rupees ($4.13 million), just over half of this year's daily average of 909 million rupees. Foreigners bought a net 299.4 million rupees worth of shares, extending the net foreign inflow this year to 34.9 billion.
The rupee edged up to 130.75/85 to the dollar from Wednesday's close of 130.85/95 as banks sold dollars ahead of budget, dealers said. ($1 = 130.7000 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Ron Popeski)