March 31, 2017 / 11:38 AM / in 7 months

Sri Lankan shares hit near 3-wk closing high; post 1st weekly gain in 6

COLOMBO, March 31 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed at their highest in nearly three weeks on Friday, rising for a fourth straight session on purchases by foreign investors and on quarter-end window dressing, stockbrokers said.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.36 percent firmer at 6,061.94, its highest close since March 13. The index rose 1.1 percent on week, posting its first weekly gain in six.

“We are seeing some significant improvement in investor confidence. Local institutions have started to come in to the market. They may be feeling that this is the right time as the market has bottomed out,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

“Retail investors are still on wait and see, but the bigger players are getting in with heavy foreign participation.”

Foreign investors net bought shares worth 1.06 billion rupees ($6.99 million) on Friday, the highest net foreign purchases since Dec. 8, raising the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 5.64 billion rupees in equities.

Turnover stood at 1.74 billion rupees, well above this year’s daily average of 734.8 million rupees.

Shares of biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc climbed 1.57 percent, while Ceylinco Insurance Plc jumped 6.46 percent and conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc rose 0.66 percent. ($1 = 151.7500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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