Sri Lankan stocks gain on bullish sentiment

April 23, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka stocks rose across the board Thursday on mostly retail buying, with the main index up 1.82 percent, spurred by rate cuts but the rupee weakened below 120 against the dollar in the spot markets, dealers said.

The rupee weakened to be quoted as low as 120.65/90 before recovering to 120.00, dealers said.

The All Share Price Index of the Colombo stock exchange rose 1.82 percent (32.42 points) to end at 1,810.00 while the Milanka index of liquid stocks went up 2.15 percent (40.07 points) to close at 1,907.63.

Turnover improved to 423.6 million rupees.

“Investors are picking up stocks hoping the economy and the corporate earnings will get a boost with the war coming to a close,” said Geeth Balasuriya of Acuity Stockbrokers.

“We are seeing some institutional and high net worth buying in the market.”

Sri Lanka’s largest private bank, Commercial Bank of Sri Lanka, gained 4.50 rupees to close at 89.50, while Hatton National Bank gained five rupees to close at 85.00.

Seylan Bank, in which a controlling stake is on sale, gained 50 cents to close at 39.50.

Sampath Bank gained 1.50 rupees to close at 71.00, while Nations Trust Bank, a subsidiary of conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH), gained one rupee to close at 27.00.

National Development Bank lost 25 cents to close at 94.50.

“Activity levels are improving as more and more investors are getting into the market,” said Balasuriya.

Index heavy JKH, which has business interests in transport, finance, property development, retail and food processing sectors, gained one rupee to close at 65.00.

Dialog Telekom, subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia, closed flat at 5.25, while fixed line giant Sri Lanka Telecom gained 25 cents to close at 39.00.

Foreign buying was at 18.8 million rupees, while foreign selling amounted to 179.2 million.