Sri Lankan shares close up 0.97-pct

July 14, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka stocks closed up Wednesday as investors re-entered the market looking for bargains, while ‘penny’ stocks continued to be actively traded despite wide price fluctuations, brokers said. Seylan Merchant Bank closed at 1.70 rupees, down 10 cents with over 11 million shares traded, while Piramal Glass of Ceylon closed at 3.00 rupees, up 10 cents with four million shares changing hands, brokers said.

There was some institutional and high net worth interest in some hotels stocks, brokers said.

John Keells Hotels closed at 19.00 rupees, up 50 cents, Royal Palms Beach Hotels 68.75 rupees, up 3.00 on razor thin trading volumes, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings closed at 421.00 rupees, up 10.50 and Asia Hotels and Properties closed at 154.25 rupees, up 3.75.

Conglomerates, Aitken Spence closed at 1,600.00 rupees, up 37.00, Hayleys closed at 300.50 rupees, up 50 cents, Hemas Holdings closed at 36.50 rupees, up 25 cents and John Keells Holdings, an index heavy stock closed at 206.00 rupees, up 1.00.

The All Share Price Index closed at 4,600.22, up 44.39 points, while the Milanka index of more liquid shares rose 0.84 percent (43.17 points) to close at 5,181.20.

Turnover was 1.7 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

At the end of trade there were 114 gainers and 33 losers, brokers said.

“Today’s turnover was mainly driven by hotel and banking sector and all around gains were to be seen,” Sahani De Silva, research analyst at Bartleet Mallory stockbrokers said.

“We expect fundamentally sound stocks that are expected to show good results in the June quarter to move up in price.”

Commercial Bank closed at 178.00 rupees, down 75 cents, Hatton National Bank 278.75 rupees, up 4.25, Nations Trust Bank closed at 55.00 rupees, up 1.00, Sampath Bank closed flat at 340.00 rupees and Seylan Bank closed flat at 79.00 rupees.

Penny stocks despite high price volatility arising from speculative trading continued to be heavily traded by retail investors, brokers said.