August 20, 2012 / 12:15 PM / 5 years ago

Sri Lanka stocks hit 2-week high on foreign buying

COLOMBO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks edged higher on Monday as foreign investors bought market heavyweight John Keells Holdings, but the resignation of regulatory chief weighed on sentiment, dealers said.

The Colombo Stock Exchange’s main index rose 0.45 percent, or 22.33 points, to 4,949.46, its highest level since Aug. 2.

Shares in John Keells Holdings rose 1.44 percent to 197.90 rupees a share as investors made strategic purchases after a sharp decline in prices across-the-board this year.

Foreign investors bought a net 980.2 million rupees worth of shares, extending the net foreign inflow this year to 27.96 billion rupees.

Block deals in Asiri Hospital Holdings PLC boosted turnover. It accounted for 35 percent of the day’s turnover and ended 5.06 percent weaker at 7.50 rupees a share.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund on Monday raised concerns over the resignation of the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission Tilak Karunaratne, saying he had been taking the right steps to ensure market participants obeyed the rules.

Stockbrokers and dealers said Karunaratne’s resignation would further dampen an underperforming bourse which has fallen 18.52 percent so far this year.

The rupee ended tad firmer at 132.23/25 against the dollar from Friday’s close of 132.35/40 in light trade as the central bank said it would gain to around 125 level. ($1 = 132.3750 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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