Sri Lankan stocks close up 0.21-pct

Mar 25, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed higher Thursday pulled up by gains in index heavy John Keells Holdings (JKH), while a large deal on Hatton National Bank (HNB) pushed turnover to over five billion rupees, brokers said. The All Share Price Index closed at 3,730.43, up 7.71 points, while the Milanka index of more liquid shares gained 0.38 percent (16.45 points) to close at 4,337.05.

Turnover was 5.71 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

Brokers said foreigners sold 5.2 billion rupees of shares, and bought 465 million, resulting in a net outflow of 4.7 billion rupees.

“The day’s turnover was dominated by JKH and HNB,” Waruna Singappuli, head of research at NDB Stockbrokers said.

“The market speculation is that local institutional investors, primarily state funds, had increased their stakes in HNB, while a foreign fund sold.”

Brokers said 25.8 million HNB shares changed hands at 180.00 rupees, in a negotiated off-the-floor deal. It closed at 180.25 rupees, down 25 cents.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed flat at 195.00 rupees, with 1.22 million shares traded. Seylan Bank closed flat at 46.00 rupees.

JKH, a conglomerate with business interest on transport, retail, finance, leisure and food processing sectors closed at 178.00 rupees, up 7.00.

Aitken Spence closed at 1,378.25 rupees, down 7.75, Hayleys closed flat at 225.00 rupees and Hemas Holdings closed at 117.75 rupees, down 25.

In other trading on the stock market, Environmental Resources Investments ordinary voting shares closed at 241.50 rupees, down 13.00. Its 0000 warrants closed at 150.75 rupees, down 3.00, and 0001 warrants closed at 152.50 rupees, down 1.25.

Brokers said at the end of trade Thursday there were 54 gainers and 74 losers.