April 11, 2018 / 12:24 PM / 7 months ago

Sri Lankan shares end higher; foreigners sell

COLOMBO, April 11 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended slightly firmer on Wednesday led by blue-chip stocks in thin trade, while foreign selling boosted turnover with most local investors on leave ahead of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year this week, brokers said.

Foreign selling accounted for 80 percent of the day’s turnover of 553 million rupees ($3.55 million), less than half of this year’s daily average of 1.17 billion rupees.

Foreign investors exited mainly by selling Softlogic Finance Plc, brokers said. Shares in Softlogic Finance, which accounted for 60 percent of the day’s turnover, however, ended 0.6 percent lower.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.18 percent higher at 6,451.17.

Foreign investors sold shares worth net 420.8 million rupees on Wednesday, extending the net foreign outflow to 1.25 billion rupees from equities.

“It was a very dull day as most local investors are on leave,” said Atchuthan Srirangan, assistant research manager, First Capital Holdings Plc.

Market sentiment improved after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion last week, dealers said.

Top fixed-phone line operator Sri Lanka Telecom closed 6.3 percent higher, while Hatton National Bank ended up 1.8 percent.

Dealers expect the stock market to be tepid this week ahead of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year on April 14.

The central bank unexpectedly cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points on Wednesday, as policy makers sought to revitalise an economy growing at its weakest pace in 16 years and facing heightened political uncertainty.

The index fell 0.33 percent last week and dropped 1.14 percent in March.

$1 = 155.6000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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