Sri Lanka stocks close up 0.5-pct

July 07, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka stocks closed firmer Thursday with sharp gains in Lanka Orix Finance Company, which began trading, helping propel the benchmark index up by over a hundreds points in early trade, brokers said. The main All Share Price Index closed at 6,918.41, up 0.50 percent (34.35 points) while the more liquid Milanka index fell 0.86 percent (55.38 points) to close at 6,412.43, according to stock exchange figures.

Turnover was 1.5 billion rupees.

Lanka Orix Finance Company (LOFC), part of the LOLC group, ended at 12.60 rupees, up 7.60 or 152 percent with 17.9 million shares traded.

The stock, which had a reference price of five rupees, shot up to 22.50 rupees in early trade, propelling it into the top 10 market cap companies, even larger than its parent, analysts said.

Brokers Lanka Securities said LOFC, which drew heavy investor interest, was the top gainer of the day and highest contributor to turnover.

Expolanka made the second highest contribution to the market turnover followed by John Keells Holdings.

Expolanka Holdings closed at 13.70 rupees, up 10 cents with 18.2 million shares done.

There were four crossings or off-market private deals in Expolanka all at 13.70 rupees a share, with two deals of five million shares each, one of three million and the fourth of 3.7 million shares.

John Keells Holdings closed at 212 rupees, down three.

The brokers said the drop in prices of John Keells Holdings, Aitken Spence Holdings and Carsons Cumberbatch brought down the Milanka Index.

Foreign participation accounted for 17.5 percent of total market activity with foreign investors being net buyers for the third consecutive day of the week with a net foreign inflow of 189.7 million rupees.

Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said retail interest was yet again seen in penny stocks while some institutional interest was evident in selective attractive counters.