June 22, 2017 / 11:43 AM / 2 months ago

Sri Lankan shares slip from 17-mth high ahead of cbank rate review

COLOMBO, June 22 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell on Thursday in low turnover, retreating from a 17-month closing high, as investors awaited the central bank's monetary policy review.

The central bank is expected to keep its key policy rates steady at more than three-year highs, a Reuters poll showed. The policy announcement is due on Friday at 0200 GMT.

Investors are worried of a possible rate hike, said Jaliya Wijeratne, CEO, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Only a few counters traded today. Buyers want top blue chip John Keells Holdings, but sellers were not ready to sell at the price buyers wanted."

Keells, outperforming the overall index, ended 0.7 percent firmer.

The Colombo stock index fell 0.3 percent to 6,714.73, slipping from its highest close since Jan. 7, 2016 hit in the previous session.

Turnover was 495.5 million rupees ($3.2 million), about half of this year's daily average of 905.7 million rupees.

Foreign investors sold a net 14.6 million rupees ($95,362) worth of shares on Thursday, but they have been net buyers of 20.86 billion rupees of equities so far this year.

Shares of Ceylinco Insurance Plc lost 6.7 percent, while Hemas Holdings Plc ended 2.3 percent weaker, and BRAC Lanka Finance Plc fell 15.5 percent. ($1 = 153.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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