January 7, 2014 / 11:41 AM / in 4 years

Sri Lanka stocks at near 5-mth high on large caps, foreign buying

COLOMBO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks gained to a
near 5-month high led by large caps and banks as active local
institutional investors and foreigners bought in risky assets,
and analysts said the central bank's rate cut had been helping
the positive sentiment.
    The main stock index rose 0.54 percent, or 32.08
points, to 5,977.07, its highest close since Aug. 22 last.
    "Institutional appetite ruled the day's trading session with
a healthy turnover level," TKS Securities said in a note. 
    Foreign investors bought 117.8 million rupees
($901,000)worth of shares on Tuesday after buying a net 22.88
billion rupees worth of stocks last year, compared with a record
38.68 billion rupees net foreign inflow in 2011.
    Analysts said the bourse was sustaining its upward trend and
the central bank's rate cut had helped boost the sentiment.
    The central bank slashed the standing lending facility rate
or reverse repurchase rate by 50 basis points to a multi-year
low of 8.00 percent on Thursday, in a move to reduce commercial
banks' interest rate spreads. 
    The day's turnover was 716.2 million rupees, less than last
year's daily average of about 828.4 million rupees. 
    Shares in Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC gained 1
percent to 1198.20 rupees, while Commercial bank of Ceylon PLC
 rose 1.65 percent 122.90 rupees.
    The index gained 4.8 percent in 2013 after losses in the
previous two years, giving a return of 2.18 percent in dollar
terms. Many investors locked their funds in risk-free debentures
instead of risky assets due to a sluggish bourse amid falling
interest rates.     
 ($1 = 130.7500 Sri Lanka rupees)

 (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by
Gopakumar Warrier)
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