October 15, 2019 / 12:39 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka stocks slip from near 6-week high on profit-taking; rupee weakens

COLOMBO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan stocks ended weaker on Tuesday, snapping a run of seven straight gaining sessions to slip from a near six-week high hit in the previous session as investors booked profits. The rupee currency ended weaker. ** The benchmark stock index ended down 0.5% at 5,840.48, slipping from its highest close since Sept. 3. So far this year, the index has dropped 3.50%. ** Meanwhile, the rupee was 0.49% weaker at 181.85/95 per dollar, compared with Monday’s close of 180.90/181.10. The currency is up 0.41% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets as campaigning got under war in the country’s presidential election.

** Foreign investors continued selling for the 10th straight session. They sold a net 79.9 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 4.03 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** One of the two presidential frontrunners, former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has won the backing of President Maithripala Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), 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 strong backing among 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 583.4 million Sri Lankan rupees ($3.21 million), well above this year’s daily average of about 661.6 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, selling 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 = 181.6500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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