CORRECTED-Sri Lankan bourse at 6-wk low; falls below key barrier

Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:55am EST

(Corrects lead para, net foreign purchases, also figures for purchases and outflows in paras 3 and 4)

COLOMBO Feb 19 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell for a fifth straight session on Wednesday to a six-week low, breaching the psychological 6,000-point mark despite foreign investors buying the island nation's risky assets.

The main stock index ended down 0.59 percent, or 35.42 points, at 5,986.24, its lowest close since Jan. 7. It has dropped 4.19 percent in the last 11 sessions.

Foreign investors were net buyers for the first time in the last three sessions, purchasing a net 197.8 million rupees ($1.51 million) worth of shares. But they have been net sellers of 4.67 billion rupees in the past nine sessions as some offshore funds exited the market.

The bourse has seen 3.28 billion rupees of foreign outflows so far in 2014, after enjoying net inflows of 22.88 billion rupees last year.

Analysts said investors were concerned over possible further foreign outflows, though local investors are still optimistic about risky assets due to falling interest rates.

On Monday, Sri Lanka's central bank kept its policy rates steady at multi-year lows while analysts said local investors were active in the market after interest rates on treasury bills eased to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive.

Analysts said local investors were active in the market after interest rates on treasury bills eased to multi-year lows, making fixed-income assets unattractive.

Top conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc lost 1.56 percent to close at 215.00 rupees, pulling the overall index down.

Shares of market heavyweight Ceylon Tobacco Co Plc fell 0.90 percent to 1,198.80 rupees.

The index is still 1.24 percent up so far this year, following a 4.8 percent gain in 2013.

The day's turnover was 714.6 million rupees, less than this year's daily average of about 1.2 billion rupees. ($1 = 130.8500 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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