COLOMBO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares snapped two sessions of losses to end higher on Thursday as investors picked up beaten down stocks. The rupee closed weaker. ** The benchmark stock index closed 0.40% higher at 5,860.09. The index has dropped 3.18% so far this year. ** Meanwhile, the rupee ended 0.08% weaker at 182.00/10 per dollar compared with Wednesday’s close of 181.85/95. The currency is up 0.33% so far this year.
** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for 12th straight session as campaigning got underway for the country’s presidential election.
** They sold a net 10.7 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 4.14 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 and the other strong candidate Sajith Premadasa, the housing minister who has strong backing among the rural poor, started their campaigns last week.
** Equity market turnover was 526.4 million Sri Lankan rupees ($2.89 million), less than this year’s daily average of about 660.2 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. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 9 stood at 54.9 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 = 181.9000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; editing by Uttaresh.V)