September 29, 2016 / 11:57 AM / a year ago

Sri Lankan shares end at near one-month closing high

COLOMBO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan stocks on Thursday posted a third straight session of gains to end at a near one-month closing high, led by gains in financial stocks, a day after yields in T-bills dropped.

The benchmark index of the Colombo Stock Exchange ended up 0.25 percent, or 15.98 points, at 6,528.30, its highest close since Sept. 2.

The central bank's widely expected decision on Wednesday to hold the rates steady suggested that policy makers were keen to support a slowing economy even as they kept a tight leash on rampant credit growth.

Treasury bill yields fell between 16 basis points and 33 basis points after the rate decision.

Analysts said they expected the stock index to rise this week due to the fall in the return on fixed income assets.

The bank has tightened policy three times since December.

After four consecutive weekly losses, the index had posted a weekly gain of 0.1 percent last week.

"The market is poised to move up. We see retail buying coming into the market," said Reshan Kurukulasuriya, chief operating officer, Richard Pieris Securities (Pvt) Ltd.

"All economic indicators are also helping the market to move up. Market will move further up after the budget," he said referring to 2017 budget, scheduled to be presented in the parliament on Nov. 10.

Foreign investors bought a net 6.9 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday. But they have been net sellers of 2.95 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Turnover stood at 479.4 million rupees ($3.27 million), less than this year's daily average of 753.2 million rupees.

Shares in Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc climbed 2.5 percent while the biggest-listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc edged up 0.7 percent. ($1 = 146.0000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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