January 26, 2018 / 11:35 AM / 10 months ago

Sri Lankan shares hit 2-wk closing high

COLOMBO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares rose for a third straight session to hit a two-week closing high on Friday, led by telecom shares, but trading was dull as investors waited for direction amid political concerns over local-government elections next month, dealers said.

The Colombo Stock index ended 0.12 percent firmer at 6,456.04, its highest close since Jan. 12. The index rose 0.19 percent on week, its first weekly gain in three.

Shares in Hemas Holdings Plc were up 0.5 percent, while Dialog Axiata Plc ended 1.5 percent higher, and Sri Lanka Telecom Plc gained 2.5 percent.

“Things were very slow, even the foreign activity was very low today,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

“Activities have been coming down from the last few days. Probably towards elections it will slow down further as investors are on a wait-and-see attitude.”

Turnover was 264.1 million rupees ($1.72 million), its lowest since Jan. 2 and well below last year’s daily average of 915.3 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 21.2 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 4.02 billion rupees worth equities.

Sri Lanka will hold a long-delayed local government election on Feb. 10.

President Maithripala Sirisena said over the weekend that he would handle the economy, taking over from the government’s main coalition partner, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The comments have sparked uncertainty over the future of the coalition government, analysts said.

$1 = 153.7000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath

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