April 12, 2018 / 12:52 PM / a year ago

Sri Lankan shares hit near 4-wk closing high in thin trade ahead of holidays

COLOMBO, April 12 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares on Thursday rose to a near four-week closing high led by financials amid lean trading ahead of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year this week, brokers said.

Markets will be closed for a public holiday on Friday on account of the New Year.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.51 percent higher at 6,483.92, its highest close since March 19. The index has gained 0.44 percent this week.

“It was a lacklustre day though the index rose. Most of the investors are on leave,” said Prashan Fernando, CEO, Acuity Stockbrokers.

“After the holidays, investors will be looking for political stability. It will be the key for investor confidence.”

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne on Wednesday said President Maithripala Sirisena will reshuffle the cabinet soon after some ministers defected the cabinet and voted for the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The day’s turnover was 356.9 million rupees ($2.29 million), less than a third of this year’s daily average of 1.16 billion rupees.

Foreign investors sold shares worth a net 102.1 million rupees on Thursday, extending the net foreign outflow from equities to 1.36 billion rupees.

Market sentiment improved after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion last week, dealers said.

Capital Trust closed 4.3 percent higher, while top conglomerate John Keells Holdings closed 0.5 percent stronger.

The central bank unexpectedly cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points on Wednesday, as policy makers sought to revitalise an economy growing at its weakest pace in 16 years and facing heightened political uncertainty.

$1 = 155.6000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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