Sri Lanka shares close higher as financial, industrial stocks rise

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares snapped a three-day losing streak to close higher on Thursday, led by gains in financial and industrial stocks, as the United States and Iran backed away from further conflict in the Middle East.

** Asian stocks rebounded and investors moved away from safety havens after U.S. President Donald Trump responded overnight to an Iranian attack on U.S. forces with sanctions, not violence.

** Iran fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. However, U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said no Americans were hurt and made no direct threats of a military response.

** The benchmark stock index closed up 1.5% at 5,987.55. The bourse fell 3.5% in the past week and is down 3.8% for the year so far.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was last quoted at 181.2 against the U.S. dollar as of 1040 GMT, 0.17% higher for the day compared to last session’s close of 181.5, Refinitiv data showed.

** Shares of Lanka ORIX Leasing Co Plc was the top gainer on the index, rising as much as 9.07% to mark their biggest intraday percentage gain since Dec. 30.

** Shares of John Keells Holdings Plc rose over 3% and Vallibel One Plc added over 11%.

** Foreign investors were net sellers in the equity market, off-loading 23.05 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($127.14 million)worth of shares, exchange data showed.

** Equity market turnover was 23.63 billion Sri Lankan rupees, stock exchange data showed.

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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 181.3000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)