Sri Lanka bourse at 1-week high on Keells

COLOMBO, April 29 Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:34am EDT

COLOMBO, April 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended firmer on Tuesday to hit one-week highs, led by diversified shares such as John Keells Holdings Plc, after the nation's parliament approved three big mixed-development projects last week.

But the government's refusal to allow casinos at these projects hurt the momentum, dealers said.

The country's main stock index rose 0.23 percent, or 14.31 points, to 6,186.25, its highest since April 22.

The Sri Lankan parliament on Friday approved two projects for luxury resorts, worth up to $1,250 million, by John Keells, that will include hotels and shopping malls, and by Australian gaming tycoon James Packer's Crown Ltd.

Shares in Keells rose 1.28 percent to 238 rupees. Vallibel One, which ended flat at 18.20 rupees, got parliamentary approval on Thursday to invest $300 million in an integrated luxury tourist resort in the island nation's proposed exclusive gaming zone.

The market has gained 3.65 percent so far this month as some retail investors started buying risky assets in the face of low interest rates.

Lower interest rates have helped the market gain in the past few weeks, stockbrokers said.

Central bank on Tuesday rejected all bids at the benchmark 91-day treasury bills, which is already at its lowest since January 2007, while yield in the 182-day and 364-day t-bills also fell to its lowest since 2007, data showed.

Last week the central bank kept policy rates steady at multi-year lows.

The day's turnover was 570.8 million rupees ($4.4 million), well below this year's daily average of 952.8 million rupees.

Offshore investors were net buyers of 48.3 million rupees worth of stocks on Tuesday. But they have been net sellers of 7.14 billion rupees so far this year. ($1 = 130.6300 Sri Lanka Rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Anand Basu)

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