Sri Lanka stocks close up 1.71-pct

Sept 24, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares closed higher Friday with heavy buying of banking sector stocks, brokers said. The All Share Price Index closed at 6,888.49, up 1.71 percent (115.78 points) while the more liquid Milanka index rose 1.36 percent (97.14) to close at 7,263.65, according to stock exchange provisional figures.

Turnover was 5.6 billion rupees.

Nikita Tissera, research manager at SC Securities, said heavy trading in banking sector shares pushed up the day’s turnover.

Seylan Bank non-voting shares were among the day’s highest gainers, closing at 58.50 rupees, up 6.50 rupees.

Sampath Bank closed at 516 rupees, up 25.80 while Commercial Bank ended at 285 rupees, up 18.30.

Market heavyweight John Keells Holdings was also heavily traded, closing at 299, up 10 cents.

“We see an investor focus shift back into the fundamentally sound large caps. JKH was the second highest traded stock for the day,” Tissera said.

“With the news from the macro front being positive, we feel that the investors are betting on possible proxies to the economy.”

Economic growth is accelerating following the end of a 30-year war in May 2009.

Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said Thursday Sri Lanka has upgraded its growth forecast to between 7.5 to 8.0 percent for 2010, on a better than expected second quarter economic expansion and stronger credit flows.

The central bank was earlier forecasting a growth of 7.0 percent for 2010.

Colombo Pharmacy Company was the day’s top gainer, rising 754.10 rupees to close at 2,999.90 after hitting a high of 3,200 rupees.

A controlling stake in Colombo Pharmacy, an asset rich pharmaceutical retailer, was sold by key shareholders J L Morison Tuesday in a deal valued at over 600 million rupees.

The ASI is up 103 percent in the past year while market capitalisation has doubled to almost 2.3 trillion rupees.