Sri Lanka stocks at near 5-month high; breaks 6,000 barrier
COLOMBO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks gained 1.3 percent on Wednesday to a near five-month high and broke its psychological barrier of 6,000, led by market heavyweight John Keells Holdings PLC with foreigners buying in risky assets. Analysts said the central bank's interest rate cut last week had boosted the sentiment and helped sustain the gain. The main stock index jumped 1.29 percent, or 77.40 points, to 6,054.47, its highest close since Aug. 22 last. Foreign investors bought 215.4 million rupees ($1.65 million) worth of shares on Wednesday, making the year-to-date net foreign inflow at 60.8 million rupees. They had bought a net 22.88 billion rupees worth of stocks last year, compared with a record 38.68 billion rupees net foreign inflow in 2011. The central bank slashed the standing lending facility rate or reverse repurchase rate by 50 basis points to a multi-year low of 8.00 percent on Thursday, in a move to reduce commercial banks' interest rate spreads. On Wednesday, the yields in government T-bills sharply fell to more than two-year low. The day's turnover was 849.1 million rupees, just above last year's daily average of about 828.4 million rupees. Shares in conglomerate John Keells jumped 3.16 percent to 235 rupees a share. The CSE index gained 4.8 percent in 2013 after losses in the previous two years, giving a return of 2.18 percent in dollar terms. Many investors locked their funds in risk-free debentures instead of risky assets due to a sluggish bourse amid falling interest rates. ($1 = 130.7000 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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