Sri Lankan shares end higher after c. bank projects fast recovery

BENGALURU, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares posted their biggest rise in two weeks on Thursday, with consumer staples and financial stocks leading gains, after the country’s central bank projected a quick economic recovery despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases.

** The benchmark stock index closed up 1.5% at 5,771.89, with all major indexes closing in the black. The bourse, which has lost 5.8% for the year, fell the most in more than two weeks in the previous session.

** The island nation’s central bank left its key interest rates unchanged on Thursday, saying the economy is expected to move along a faster recovery path despite the latest surge in domestic COVID-19 cases that could hamper near-term prospects.

** Bituminous products maker Industrial Asphalts and salt-based products maker Raigam Wayamba Salterns Plc were the biggest percentage gainers on the index, rising 50% and 20%, respectively.

** Telecom company Dialog Axiata Plc and conglomerate John Keells Holdings were the biggest drags on the index, falling 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively.

** Trading volume on the benchmark index fell 25.2% to 147.10 million from the previous session.

** Foreign investors were net sellers in the equity market, off-loading 110.50 million rupees ($599,403.31) worth of shares, according to exchange data.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was last quoted at 184.35 against the U.S. dollar as of 1146 GMT, 0.05% lower for the day compared to last session’s close of 184.25, according to Refinitiv data. The currency is down 1.68% so far this year.

** Equity market turnover was 2.27 billion Sri Lankan rupees, exchange data showed.

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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 184.3500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)