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Sri Lankan shares hit 6-mth closing high on foreign buying in Keells

COLOMBO, Apr 21 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares gained on Friday to hit a more than six-month closing high on foreign buying in market heavyweight John Keells Holdings, helping boost the overall sentiment.
Foreign investors net bought equities worth 1.35 billion rupees ($8.88 million) on Friday, extending the week's net foreign buying to 6.56 billion rupees.
Foreign investors have been net buyers for the last 21 sessions, acquiring equities worth a net 11.77 billion, taking the year-to-date net foreign inflow into equities to 14.27 billion rupees.
The Colombo stock index ended 0.5 percent firmer at 6,535.54, its highest close since Oct. 11. It has climbed 9.4 percent in the 16 sessions through Friday, having risen for 15 sessions in that period.
The index added 2.1 percent on the week, marking its fourth week of gains.
"Foreign investors see extremely attractive valuation in the blue chips and growing earnings. They also see some political stability and stabilisation of the economy," said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.
"But local investors are still waiting for some kind of strong direction by the government. The bullish run will prevail in the near future with local investors also starting to buy into equities."
Stockbrokers also said the market was also encouraged by comments made by President Maithripala Sirisena on making the government effective, as reported in the local media.
Turnover stood at 3.27 billion rupees ($21.51 million), more than three times of this year's daily average of 877.8 million rupees.
John Keells Holdings, which accounted for 81 percent of the day's turnover, jumped 2.2 percent, while top lender Commercial bank of Ceylon rose 1.7 percent.
REUTERS AKC 1748
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