October 22, 2019 / 12:19 PM / a month ago

Sri Lankan stocks close at 7-week high; rupee strengthens

COLOMBO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares closed at their highest level in seven weeks on Tuesday, led by a rally in banks and manufacturing stocks, while the rupee ended firmer. ** The benchmark stock index rose 0.28% to 5,880.40, the highest close since Sept. 3, 2019. This is the fourth straight session of positive close for the index, which has fallen 2.84% so far this year. ** Meanwhile, the rupee ended 0.06% firmer at 181.60/70 per dollar compared with Monday’s close of 181.70/80. The currency is up 0.55% so far this year. ** Foreign investors were net buyers of riskier assets for a third consecutive session as campaigning got underway for the country’s presidential election scheduled on Nov. 16. ** They purchased a net 182.2 million Sri Lankan rupees ($1 million) worth of shares, but they have been net sellers of 3.59 billion rupees of equities so far this year, according to index data. ** The two presidential frontrunners, former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa and housing minister Sajith Premadasa, are yet to announce their policy framework. Analysts had said that investors were waiting to see policies on tax, subsidies, and private businesses. ** Equity market turnover was 968.8 million rupees, well above this year’s daily average of about 666.4 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors sold government securities on a net basis for the eighth time in nine weeks, selling a net 724.9 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 16. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 16 stood at 55.6 billion rupees, as per central bank data. ** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged last week 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 = 181.5500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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