Sri Lanka bourse gains to 6-week high on blue chips

COLOMBO, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 7:22am EDT

COLOMBO, April 1 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks rose to six-week highs on Tuesday, led by blue chips, but trading was light as investors remained on the sidelines awaiting directions after the United Nations announced it would probe alleged war crimes by the island nation.

The main stock index ended 0.56 percent, or 33.52 points, firmer at 6,001.83, its highest since Feb. 19. The index also breached the psychological barrier of 6000 points.

The days turnover was 341.5 million rupees, well below this year's daily average of 897.99 million rupees.

The UN on Thursday launched an inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels during the conflict that ended in 2009, saying the government had failed to investigate properly.

Analysts said the outcome of the resolution was expected, but investors sentiment has been dented over concerns it could hurt the country's economy. Several potential buyers of risky assets are awaiting a clear direction.

The bourse suffered 2.77 billion rupees of foreign outflow on Friday, a day after the resolution was passed. But brokers said the foreign selling was not due to the resolution and the relevant foreign fund has been on the selling side since February.

On Tuesday, the bourse saw a net foreign inflow of 181.6 million rupees ($1.4 million) worth of shares, but foreign investors have been net sellers of 6.67 billion rupees so far this year.

Shares in John Keells Holdings Plc gained 2.33 percent to 232.30 rupees, while Ceylon Tobacco Co rose 1.8 percent to 1075.00 rupees. ($1 = 130.7000 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anand Basu)

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