Sri Lanka shares rise on foreign, retail buying

Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:15am EST

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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