Sri Lanka stocks up on gains in large-caps, foreign buying

COLOMBO Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:31am EDT

COLOMBO Aug 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks rose on Monday to a near three-year closing high, led by large-cap shares such as Ceylon Tobacco Co Plc and foreign buying in John Keells Holdings Plc as expectations of better earnings and low interest rates lifted appetite for risky assets.

The main stock index rose 0.44 percent, or 30.86 points, to close at 6,974.71, its highest finish since Sept. 9, 2011.

The index has gained 18 percent so far this year.

"The market recovered after the profit-taking (on Friday) and people started buying. We might see a correction here and there, but the market will continue its run on low rates," said a stockbroker asking not to be named.

The bourse saw net foreign inflows of 238.9 million rupees ($1.8 million) on Monday, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 12.01 billion rupees worth of shares.

Turnover was 1.79 billion rupees, higher than this year's daily average of 1.14 billion rupees.

Conglomerate John Keells, which accounted for 54 percent of the day's turnover, rose 0.84 percent to 240 rupees a share. Foreign investors bought a net 1.35 million Keells shares, bourse data showed.

The central bank held key policy rates at multi-year lows for the seventh straight month on Friday.

Ceylon Tobacco Co, which led the gain in the overall index, rose 3.36 percent to 1,224.70 rupees, while Sri Lanka Telecom Plc rose 2.95 percent to 55.80 rupees. (1 US dollar = 130.1500 Sri Lankan rupee) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)

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