February 16, 2018 / 1:11 PM / 2 years ago

Sri Lankan stocks edge up on foreign buying

COLOMBO, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares hit a one-week closing high on Friday as foreign investor purchases helped overcome negative market sentiment due to political uncertainty, dealers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.16 percent firmer at 6,563.69, its highest close since Feb. 9.

Financials led the gains, with Sampath Bank rising 3 percent and Aviva NDB Insurance Plc jumping 15.2 percent.

The index fell 0.13 percent on week, after gaining for three straight weeks.

The index rose on Thursday on hopes President Maithripala Sirisena’s expected announcement on the future of the coalition government would ease political uncertainty.

Sirisena, however, did not address the nation as expected.

“There was not much activity. The market was waiting for the president’s direction,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO at Acuity Stockbrokers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, however, addressed the media saying that the government will continue, albeit with a reshuffle of the cabinet.

“The market might react on Monday to the Prime Minister’s speech,” said Fernando.

The ruling coalition government of Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party suffered defeats in a local election over the weekend.

Since the results, both parties have locked horns on how best to continue in the government. Sirisena’s party wants to form its own government, his party ministers have said.

Investors are waiting for some stability and to see where coalition partners are headed, analysts said.

Turnover stood at 735.5 million rupees ($4.74 million), below last year’s daily average of 868.4 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 109.5 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the net foreign buying to 5.5 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 155.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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