(Colombo) REUTERS: Sri Lankan shares jumped more than one percent yesterday to hit their highest close in nearly 20 weeks, led by gains in banking and diversified stocks, while the rupee weakened on higher importer dollar demand.
The country’s benchmark stock index ended 1.1 percent up at 5,745.97 its highest close since March 7.
The index is down about 5.06 percent so far this year.
The country’s stock market had a turnover of Rs.1.1 billion, well above this year’s daily average of about Rs.610.1 million so far. Last year’s daily average came in at Rs.834 million.
Foreign investors bought a net Rs.362,201 worth of shares, extending year-to-date net buying to Rs.1.47 billion worth of equities so far this year, index data showed.
Shares of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC jumped 3.9 percent, Sampath Bank PLC rose 4.6 percent, conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC climbed 1.2 percent and the country’s biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon ended 2.5 percent firmer.
Meanwhile, the currency ended 0.06 percent weaker at 176.10/25 per dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 176.00/10, as importer demand for the greenback outpaced the dollar selling by banks.
The rupee is up 3.69 percent so far this year.
The central bank left key interest rates unchanged on July 11 as expected, after cutting them in May to support the economy as tourism and investment plummeted in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in April.
Foreign investors bought a net Rs.1.22 billion worth of government securities in the week ended July 17, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow to Rs.18.46 billion, the Central Bank data showed.