Sri Lanka stocks up on foreign buying in Keells

COLOMBO, April 2 Wed Apr 2, 2014 7:20am EDT

COLOMBO, April 2 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks closed at six-week highs on Wednesday, led by foreign buying in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, brokers said.

The main stock index ended 0.05 percent, or 2.95 points, firmer at 6,004.78, its highest since Feb. 18.

The days turnover was boosted by the foreign buying in John Keells. Turnover was at 1.95 billion rupees ($14.9 million), more than double of this year's daily average of 915.5 million rupees.

Shares in John Keells, which saw foreign buying of 3.4 million shares, gained 0.73 percent to 234.00 rupees, while Sri Lanka Telecom Plc rose 1.76 percent to 46.20 rupees.

On Wednesday, the bourse saw a net foreign inflow of 852.9 million rupees worth of shares, but foreign investors have been net sellers of 5.81 billion rupees so far this year.

Analysts said investor sentiment was hit following the United Nations announced it would probe alleged war crimes by the island nation.

The UN last week 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. ($1 = 130.7000 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anand Basu)

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