COLOMBO, April 17 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares hit a five-week closing high in thin trade on Tuesday, rising for a fifth straight session, as many market participants stayed away due to extended holidays after the Sinhala-Tamil New Year festival over the weekend, brokers said.
The Colombo stock index ended 0.74 percent higher at 6,544.25, its highest close since March 13. The index gained 0.44 percent last week.
Shares of Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Plc rose 10.2 percent, while Melstacorp Ltd ended 1 percent higher. Ceylinco Insurance Plc rose 5.2 percent, while fixed line telephone operator Sri Lanka Telecom Plc closed 2.2 percent firmer.
Turnover stood at 315.4 million rupees ($2.02 million), less than this year’s daily average of 1.13 billion rupees.
“Market is up on low volumes. Lack of investors in the market resulted in the low volumes, most investors are on holidays and not active still,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.
The market was waiting for some political stability after President Maithripala Sirisena suspended parliament until May 8, brokers said.
Foreign investors bought shares worth a net 9.5 million rupees on Tuesday, but they have net sold 1.36 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.
The central bank unexpectedly cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points last week, as policy makers sought to revitalise an economy growing at its weakest pace in 16 years and facing heightened political uncertainty. ($1 = 156.2000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)