December 18, 2012 / 11:16 AM / 5 years ago

Sri Lankan shares, rupee end virtually unchanged

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COLOMBO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks ended a tad firmer on Tuesday, while a block deal in Asiri Central Hospitals PLC boosted the turnover to a one-month high.

The Colombo Stock Exchange's main index edged up 0.08 percent or 4.28 points to close at 5,507.79. One stockbroker noted some foreign buying in blue chips, though retail investors remained on the sidelines.

The rupee closed steady at 128.70/75 to the dollar compared with Monday's close of 128.70/80 in dull trade, dealers said.

Analysts also said lower interest rates should attract more investors to the stock market from January. The central bank surprised the markets with a 25-basis point rate cut to support growth last week.

Asiri Central Hospitals PLC, which fell 1.6 percent to 250 rupees, and accounted for 70.6 percent of the day's turnover with 7.3 million shares changing hands in a block deal.

Total turnover was 2.59 billion Sri Lanka rupees ($20.13 million), its highest since Nov. 19. Foreign investors were net buyers of 140.1 million rupees worth of shares, extending the net foreign buying so far this year to 36.73 billion rupees. ($1 = 128.6500 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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