Sri Lankan stocks hit over 1-wk closing high after rates held steady

COLOMBO, March 21 Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:40am EDT

COLOMBO, March 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares hit their highest close in more than one week after the central bank left its key policy rates unchanged at multi-year lows, but trading volume slumped as investors were in a wait-and-see mode ahead of an impending U.N. resolution on the country's human rights record.

Before the market opened, the central bank kept its policy rates steady at multi-year lows, as expected, as it hopes that slowing private sector credit expansion will rebound and push up the country's growth pace.

The main stock index ended up 0.39 percent, or 23.31 points, at 5,937.87, its highest close since March 11.

The day's turnover was 251.3 million rupees ($1.92 million), well below a third of this year's daily average of 882.4 million rupees.

Foreign investors were net sellers of 3.2 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the net outflow so far this year to 4.11 billion rupees, and clocked 22.88 billion rupees in 2013.

Shares of Nestle Lanka PLC gained 2.15 percent to 1995.00 rupees.

Analysts said investor sentiment has been dented on concerns over the U.N. resolution, which could have an impact on the country's economy. Many potential buyers in risky assets are staying on the sidelines awaiting clear direction.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka questioned the independence of the human rights office of the United Nations after the United States asked it to investigate violations by the Sri Lanka government related to the civil war.

A vote on the resolution is scheduled for the next week. ($1 = 130.6000 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)