October 28, 2019 / 12:13 PM / 22 days ago

Sri Lankan shares end at 12-week high; rupee weaker

COLOMBO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares closed at a 12-week high on Monday, led by financial services and telecom companies, while the rupee closed weaker on dollar demand from importers.

** Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a statement on Friday pledging a tax overhaul that would reduce value-added tax to 8% from the current 15%, abolish a tax for professionals and simplify many other taxes.

** Rajapaksa faces a challenge from Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa, who will announce his policy framework on Nov. 1. Analysts said investors were waiting to see their views on tax, subsidies and private businesses.

** The benchmark stock index edged up 0.18% to 5,946.08, its highest close since Aug. 13, 2019, and gained for an eighth straight session. The index posted a weekly gain of 1.2% last week, but is down 1.76% so far this year.

** The rupee ended 0.06% weaker at 181.35/60 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 181.25/45. The currency is up 0.7% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the fourth time in seven sessions.

** They sold a net 194.9 million rupees ($1.07 million) worth of shares, extending the year to date net foreign selling to 4.16 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** Equity market turnover was 491.4 million rupees, less than this year’s daily average of about 664.8 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees.

** Meanwhile, foreign investors bought government securities on a net basis for the first time in three weeks, buying a net 1.97 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 23.

** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 23 stood at 53.63 billion rupees, according to central bank data.

** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged on Oct. 11 after loosening policy earlier this year, although growth is likely to remain subdued as the economy faces rising global risks.

** For a report on global markets, click

** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 181.3500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez, editing by Larry King)

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