September 30, 2019 / 12:53 PM / 15 days ago

Sri Lankan shares close lower, rupee weakens

COLOMBO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares ended weaker on Monday, falling for the second straight session, while the rupee ended weaker on dollar demand from banks. ** The index rose for the past two sessions through Thursday, after the central bank said on Tuesday that the Monetary Board had ordered banks to reduce interest rates on all loans and advances by at least 200 basis points by Oct. 15. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.58% down at 5,738.24. The bourse fell 0.38% last week. So far this year, the index has dropped 5.2%. ** Equity market turnover was 770.1 million Sri Lankan rupees ($4.23 million), more than this year’s daily average of about 661.0 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees. ** Foreign investors were net buyers of 232.6 million rupees worth of shares on Monday, but they have been net sellers of 2.6 billion rupees of equities so far this year, according to index data.

** Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan rupee ended weaker on dollar demand from the banks, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowering the country’s growth forecast for 2019 also weighed on the currency.

** The rupee closed at 182.00/10 to the dollar weaker than Friday’s close of 181.85/182.00. The rupee fell 0.41% last week. However, the currency is up 0.33% this year. ** The IMF cut its forecast for Sri Lanka’s 2019 economic growth to 2.7% from 3.5%, as the Easter Sunday attacks on hotels and churches earlier this year dented tourism and broader business activity.

** Foreign outflows from government securities, one of the major reasons behind the rupee’s recent weakness, may not see a respite till the end of parliament elections in 2020, some analysts said.

** The central bank does not release foreign trade numbers on a daily basis, but weekly data in the past four weeks has shown a steady outflow.

** Foreign investors sold government securities worth 439 million rupees in the week ended Sept. 25, data showed, extending the net foreign outflow so far this year to 55.3 billion rupees through Sept. 25, central bank data showed. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 182.0000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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