March 3, 2017 / 1:32 PM / 6 months ago

Sri Lankan shares close at over 3-week low; turnover up on block deals

COLOMBO, March 3 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares on Friday hit their lowest close in more than three weeks, as investors sold telecom shares and on concerns over rising interest rates.

The Colombo stock index ended down 0.42 percent at 6,101.51, its lowest close since Feb. 9. The bourse dropped 0.6 percent on the week, in its second straight weekly decline.

Foreign investors were net buyers of 70.8 million Sri Lankan rupees ($468,563.86) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 963.03 million rupees worth of equities.

Turnover was 1.21 billion rupees, the highest since Feb. 28 and nearly double this year's daily average of 679.4 million rupees.

"Even today the crossings pushed the turnover. The foreign inflow is continuing, which is a good thing," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

"Foreign participation is high and local investors are completely staying out of the market."

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, which accounted for 72.5 percent of the day's turnover on block trade, ended steady.

Sri Lanka Telecom Plc slid 5.44 percent, while Dialog Axiata Plc declined 3.48 percent.

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 = 151.1000 Sri Lankan rupees)

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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