February 27, 2017 / 1:12 PM / 6 months ago

Sri Lankan shares hit 2-1/2-week closing low; block deals boost turnover

COLOMBO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell on Monday to hit their lowest close in more than two weeks as investors were worried over rising interest rates, but foreign buying and block deals in Expolanka Holdings boosted the turnover.

Foreign investors net bought 716.2 million rupees worth of equities on Monday, reversing the year-to-date net foreign outflow to an inflow of 580.7 million rupees worth of equities so far this year.

The Colombo stock index ended down 0.24 percent at 6,122.04, its lowest close since Feb. 9.

"Selling pressure on John Keells brought the market down," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Investor sentiment is negative due to the rising interest rates and most of the investors are on a wait-and-see approach," he added.

Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc slid 1.20 percent, while Hatton National Bank Plc slipped 2.04 percent.

Expolanka Holdings Plc, which accounted almost half the day's turnover, climbed 1.72 percent on foreign buying.

Turnover stood at 1.35 billion rupees ($8.90 million), well more than this year's daily average of 625.2 million rupees.

Yields on treasury bills have risen to a more-than-four-year high since October, while the central bank has kept key policy rates on hold.

$1 = 151.7500 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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