Sri Lanka shares rise on foreign, retail buying
COLOMBO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares gained on Friday, helped by foreign buying in blue chips and retail buying in mid caps on earning hopes after bellwether John Keells Holdings posted strong December-quarter earnings. The main stock index gained 0.33 percent, or 20.82 points, to 6,248.08, hovering near its seven-month high hit on Jan. 24. "Retail buying is coming slowly into the market and retailers are buying mid caps as the interest rates are coming down. Foreigners bought some blue chips," a stockbroker said on condition of anonymity. Shares in Asiri Hospital Holdings Plc rose 8.38 percent to 20.70 rupees, while Aitken Spence gained 3.30 percent to 103.40 rupees. Foreign investors were net buyers of 208.8 million rupees ($1.60 million) worth of shares on Friday extending the year to date net foreign inflow to 1.03 billion rupees. They bought 22.88 billion rupees of stocks last year. Stockbrokers said retail and institutional investors were active in the market after interest rates in treasury bills eased at a weekly auction on Wednesday to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive. The index has been in an overbought region since Jan. 7, Thomson Reuters data shows. It has risen 5.67 percent so far this year, following a 4.8 percent gain in 2013, after having fallen in the previous two years. The day's turnover was 1.34 billion rupees, more than last year's daily average of about 828.4 million rupees. ($1 = 130.6750 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anand Basu)
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