Shares close highest in nearly 5 months; rupee falls

Friday, 26 July 2019 00:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: Sri Lankan shares rose for a third straight session on Thursday to hit their highest close in nearly five months, led by a rally in banks, but the rupee weakened on higher importer dollar demand. 

Foreign investors were net sellers of stocks. 

The country’s benchmark stock index ended 0.85% up at 5,794.66, its highest close since 28 February. 

The index is down about 4.26% so far this year. The country’s stock market had a turnover of Rs. 743.6 million ($4.22 million), more than this year’s daily average of about Rs. 611.1 million so far. Last year’s daily average came in at Rs. 834 million. 

Foreign investors sold a net Rs. 84.6 million worth of shares on Thursday; the year-to-date net buying stood at Rs. 1.39 billion, index data showed. 

Shares of the country’s biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon jumped 4.9%, Hatton National Bank PLC rose 5.2%, DFCC Bank PLC climbed 7.5% and Dialog Axiata PLC ended 0.9% firmer. 

Meanwhile, the currency ended 0.03% weaker at 176.15/25 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 176.10/25, as importer demand for the greenback outpaced the dollar selling by banks. 

The rupee is up 3.66% so far this year. The central bank left key interest rates unchanged on 11 July as expected, after cutting them in May to support the economy as tourism and investment plummeted in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in April. 

Foreign investors bought a net Rs. 1.22 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended 17 July, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow of Rs. 18.46 billion, the Central Bank data showed.