COLOMBO, April 17 The Sri Lankan share index
rose to a near 2-1/2-month peak on Thursday and posted its
biggest gain in almost seven weeks with high networth investors
buying banking shares on hopes of high profits due to an
expected rise in private sector credit in the second half of the
The main stock index ended up 1.01 percent at
6,180.76, its highest close since Feb. 5 and the biggest daily
gain since Feb. 28.
"There was a lot of interest in banks," a stockbroker said
on condition of anonymity. "We expect the market to gain in the
coming week as well after the holidays."
Both currency and stock markets will be closed on Friday for
Good Friday after they were shut on Monday and Tuesday for the
Sinhala-Tamil new year and a special bank holiday.
The day's turnover was 664.1 million rupees ($5.09 million),
less than this year's daily average of 976.1 million rupees.
Shares in banks and financials accounted for 62 percent of the
day's turnover, bourse data showed.
With a lower interest rate regime, both Sri Lanka's central
bank and finance ministry have said private sector credit growth
will rise in the second half of this year. Analysts expect
rising credit demand to help boost banks' profits.
The bourse saw net foreign inflows for a seventh straight
session. Offshore investors bought 3.3 million rupees worth of
stocks, though they have sold a net 8.04 billion rupees of
shares so far this year.
Top lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon and second
largest lender Hatton National Bank ended 0.1 percent
and 1.7 percent firmer respectively. Large cap Ceylon Tobacco
Company PLC gained 3.8 percent.
Analysts said foreign investors could shift from the island
nation's risky assets if Sri Lanka does not cooperate in an
international probe by the Office of the United Nations' High
Commissioner for Human Rights into the country's alleged war
crimes and human rights abuses.
Sri Lanka's foreign minister said last week that the country
would not cooperate with the inquiry.
($1 = 130.5750 Sri Lanka Rupees)
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)