COLOMBO- Sri Lankan shares fell on Monday to their lowest in nearly four weeks, as escalating tensions in the Middle East lifted crude prices and shook investor confidence across the globe.
** Tensions in the Middle East after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general pulled down an index of Asian shares off an 18-month high on Monday as investors pushed safe-haven gold near a seven-year high, and oil jumped to four-month peaks.
** The benchmark Sri Lankan stock index closed down 0.68% at 6,066.93, the lowest level since Dec. 24, weighed down by financials and industrial stocks.
** Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc was the top drag on the index, falling as much as 1.58%, while Hatton National Bank PLC HNB.CM fell 2.4% to a near three-month closing low and Commercial Leasing & Finance PLC dropped 5.3%.
** Foreign investors were net buyers in the equity market, adding 91.3 million Sri Lankan rupees ($503,863.13) worth of shares.
** The Sri Lankan rupee was last quoted at 181.20 against the dollar, Refinitiv data showed.
** Equity market turnover was 444.8 million Sri Lankan rupees.
($1 = 181.2000 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli) ((Chandini.M@thomsonreuters.com; 910867497919;))