May 9, 2017 / 11:52 AM / 5 months ago

Sri Lankan shares little changed ahead of holidays

COLOMBO, May 9 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed little changed on Tuesday, hovering near their highest close in about one year, with gains in banks offset by losses in beverage and telecommunication shares.

Stockbrokers said they expect the bullish trend to continue after holidays with the central bank holding key policy rates steady amid falling T-bill yields.

With the pressure on the rupee abating and yields for government securities easing, the central bank kept key interest rates steady at more than three-year highs at a policy meeting on Tuesday.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.01 percent weaker at 6,666.83, hovering near its highest close since May 18, 2016 hit on Monday. It added 0.5 percent last week, its sixth straight weekly gain.

“With the rates being held steady and yields in T-bills coming down, the market will continue the bullish run after holidays,” said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO at Softlogic Stockbrokers.

Volume was moderate as many investors were on the sidelines ahead of holidays. The financial markets will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for Buddhist religious holidays.

Turnover stood at 720.9 million rupees ($4.74 million), less than this year’s daily average of 894 million rupees.

Foreign investors net bought shares worth 30.1 million rupees, extending their year-to-date investment in equities to 16.77 billion rupees.

They bought a net 14.28 billion rupees in the last 32 sessions, and out of these, the bourse saw net foreign buying in 31.

Reduction of 36-38 basis points in T-bill yields in the last three weeks, stable currency on expectation of inflows from foreign borrowing, and an IMF statement on the disbursement of the third tranche of a $1.5 billion loan, have helped boost sentiment, analysts said.,,

Shares in Nestle Lanka Plc ended 1.7 percent weaker, Sri Lanka Telecom Plc fell 1.7 percent and conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended 0.2 percent weaker.

Lanka ORIX Leasing Co Plc ended 4.1 percent firmer, while Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, the country’s biggest listed lender, climbed 0.3 percent. ($1 = 152.2000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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