Sri Lanka shares hit new high

Apr 19, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks shot through the 4,000-point mark on the benchmark index Monday, hitting a new high as investors returned after holidays, enthused by anticipated higher corporate earnings and political stability after an election, brokers said.

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The All Share Price Index closed at 4,015.36, up 1.22 percent (48.49 points) while the more liquid Milanka index rose 1.29 percent (58.36 points) to close at 4,576.10.

Turnover was 1.76 billion rupees, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

The ASPI is up 18 percent so far this year.

“The high sentiment on the hotels and tourism sector continued,” said Nikita Tissera, research manager at stock brokering firm SC Securities.

“All the highest trading stocks today were either hotel stocks or had high exposure to hotel stocks in their investment portfolios.”

John Keells Hotels, the leisure unit of the John Keells Holdings group, was the most actively traded stock, with 13.5 million shares changing hands, generating a turnover of 288.8 million rupees.

The stock closed at 22 rupees, up 1.75.

Hotel stocks have become an investor favourite in anticipation of higher earnings propelled by a post-war tourism boom.

Nawaloka Hospitals was also heavily traded, with 24.4 million shares done, generating 102.9 million rupees in turnover. The share closed at 4.50, up 60 cents.

Brokers said the rise of Nawaloka Hospitals can be attributed to the expected good performance in Galadari Hotels in which it holds a big stake.

The reporting season for March earnings is just around the corner and most companies are expected to post better earnings as the economy improves with the end of the 30-year ethnic war last May.

A government victory in parliamentary polls earlier this month has also buoyed investor confidence as it is seen as ensuring political stability.