COLOMBO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares .CSE hit an all-time high on Tuesday on bullish earning hopes, shrugging off post-poll uncertainty after the market heavyweight John Keells Holdings JKH.CM posted a healthy quarterly profit. The All-Share Price Index .CSE of the Colombo Stock Exchange jumped 1.58 percent or 56.29 to hit a fresh record high of 3610.74 points, surpassing its previous all-time high of 3586.68, hit on Jan. 18.
It closed 1.04 percent firmer at 3591.38 points. The market is closed on Wednesday, when the results of Tuesday’s presidential vote are expected to be announced.
“The market peaked at the last hour as investors bought bluechips,” said an analyst on condition of anonymity.
“There was cautious buying in early trade due to poll concerns. But retail investors stepped in after seeing heavy buying in Keells and Touchwood.”
The island nation on Tuesday held its presidential poll, in which two former allies who led Sri Lanka to victory in a 25-year civil war duelled at the ballot box. [ID:nSGE60P018]
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is facing a stiff challenge from his former army chief, General Sarath Fonseka, who oversaw the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, at the election. Analysts expect a close finish.
More than 14 million people registered to vote, and polling began amid heavy security and fears that election day would be as bloody as a campaign in which five people were killed and more than 800 violent incidents were recorded.
For Sri Lanka’s political risks, see [ID:nSGE5BE023]
Shares in conglomerate John Keells Holdings JKH.CM, which on Monday posted 49 percent rise in its December quarter earnings [ID:nCMB000035], closed 0.72 percent firmer at 174.25 rupees.
Touchwood Investment TWOD.CM rose 2.22 percent firmer at 115 rupees. Analysts said investors bought the shares after a court ruling said its challenged accounting procedure could be accepted.
The day’s turnover was 883.22 million rupees ($7.71 million), more than twice of 2009 daily average of 593.6 million rupees.
The bourse has risen 6.08 percent so far this year after being one of the world’s best-performing markets in 2009, jumping 125.2 percent on post-war optimism.
The Sri Lankan rupee LKR= closed weaker at 114.50/55 with compared to Monday's close of 114.47/52 per dollar as importers bought dollars.
The interbank lending rate or call money rate CLIBOR edged down to 9.082 percent from Monday’s 9.129 percent.
For secondary market rates, please see <0#LKBMK=>. ($1=114.525 Sri Lankan rupees) (Editing by Bryson Hull)