October 14, 2019 / 12:13 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka stocks hit near 6-week high; rupee weakens

COLOMBO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan stocks rose for the seventh straight session on Monday to hit a near six-week high as beverage and banking shares rallied. However, the rupee ended weaker. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.61% firmer at 5,870.09, its highest close since Sept. 3. So far this year, the index has dropped 3.01%. ** Meanwhile, the rupee was 0.14% weaker at 180.90/181.10 per dollar compared with Friday’s close of 180.65/75. The currency is up 0.93% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of risky assets as presidential poll campaigning began in the nation.

** Foreign investors continued selling for the ninth straight session. They sold a net 204 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 3.95 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** One of the two presidential frontrunners, former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is possibly getting the broader support of other smaller parties after President Maithripala Sirisena’s center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) pledged its backing for his candidature in the election scheduled for Nov. 16.

** Rajapaksa started his campaign last week, while the other strong candidate Sajith Premadasa, the housing minister who has the backing of most of the rural poor, also kicked off his campaign in the previous week.

** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged on Friday after loosening policy earlier this year, although growth is likely to remain subdued as the economy faces rising global risks.

** Equity market turnover was 1.1 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($6.08 million), well above this year’s daily average of about 662 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees. ** Foreign investors sold government securities on a net basis for the seventh time in eight weeks, they sold a net 102.8 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 9. ** Foreign outflows, which are one of the major reasons behind the rupee’s recent weakness, may not abate until after a parliamentary election in 2020, some analysts had said. ** The central bank does not release foreign trade numbers on a daily basis, but weekly data in the past six weeks through Sept. 25 has shown a steady outflow. ** Sri Lanka has seen a net foreign outflow of 54.9 billion rupees through Oct. 9, according to central bank data. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 180.9000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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