September 25, 2009 / 12:08 PM / 10 years ago

S. Lanka stocks rise on select shares

COLOMBO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s stock market .CSE edged up on Friday as retail investors bought blue chips that fell to attractive levels after some profit-taking, traders said.

On Friday, the central bank said it had temporarily asked brokers not to sell treasury securities to foreign customers, to maintain a cushion before the 10 percent foreign ownership limit is reached.

“We don’t have any serious funding requirement for right now. We can maintain the goverment cash flow from the present reserves,” C.J.P. Siriwardena, superintendent of the central bank’s public debt department, told Reuters.

Foreign investors are only allowed to hold up to 10 percent of the total outstanding public debt. At present, there is about $300 million still available, Siriwardena said.

He did not say how long it would be until the temporary directive would be lifted, but said he foresaw no additional funding requirement for the next two to three weeks.

The market ended 0.12 percent or 3.38 points firmer at 2,892.05. It reached an over 30-month high during trading on Friday before falling on profit-taking.

The telecom sector index .CSETLE rose 1.22 percent while the health care sector index .CSEHLT gained 1.73 percent.

“Market ended marginally up as retail investors snapped up select shares,” said Harsha Fernando, CEO at SC securities in Colombo. “It’s the end of profit-taking sessions and the market will start picking up from next week.”

No.1 mobile phone operator Dialog Telekom DIAL.CM closed 4 percent firmer at 6.50 rupees a share while private lender Hatton National Bank HNB.CM closed up 1.4 percent at 163 rupees a share.

Shares in Asiri Surgical Hospital AMSL.CM closed 5.1 percent firmer at 10.50 rupees a share.

The Sri Lankan stock market has been rising since mid-July on declining interest rates, high growth expectations, more market liquidity, increased confidence after an IMF loan, an upgraded rating outlook and foreign inflows.

The market is one of the best performing bourses in the world in 2009 with an average return of over 94 percent so far. It has risen 53 percent since the end of the war in mid-May.

Friday’s turnover was 436.26 million rupees ($3.8 million), in line with the last year’s daily average of 464 million rupees.

The rupee LKR= was unchanged for a sixth straight week at 114.80/85 a dollar as the central bank intervened to mop up dollars to prevent appreciation and build up its reserves.

The interbank lending rate or call money rate CLIBOR edged down to 9.342 percent from Thursday’s 9.392 percent.

For secondary market rates, please see <0#LKBMK=>. (Additional reporting and editing by Bryson Hull)

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