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Sri Lanka bourse at week-low on year-end profit-taking

COLOMBO, March 31 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s shares hit a week’s low on Wednesday as investors booked profits with the end of the financial year coming, traders said.

Rupee currency LKR= ended firmer on exporter dollar conversions ahead of the Sri Lankan New Year holiday season.

The All-Share Price Index .CSE of the Colombo Stock Exchange closed 1.08 percent or 40.48 points weaker at 3,724.59. "The market came down with investors booking profits at the end of the financial year," said Harsha Fernando, CEO at SC Securities in Colombo.

Fernando also said that IPOs and rights issues had tied up the funds of local investors.

Analysts said a sharp correction in the holding company Environmental Resources Investment GREG.CM, which fell 34.7 percent to 102, also brought the market down.

Leading fixed line phone operator Sri Lanka Telecom SLTL.CM closed 2.03 percent weaker at 36.25 rupees a share, while National Development Bank NDB.CM closed 3.45 percent weaker at 210 rupees a share.

Foreign investors were net sellers of 56.15 million rupees worth of shares, data showed. They have been net sellers in 45 out of the 58 trading sessions so far this year, selling a net of 13.08 billion rupees’ worth of shares.

The bourse is up 10 percent so far this year.

The market shot up 125 percent in 2009, coming off of a low base and spurred by the end of a 25-year war in May, which enticed foreign investors to cash in shares. Foreign investors had been net buyers since 2001.

The day’s turnover was 904 million rupees ($7.9 million), below the daily average turnover of 1.53 billion rupees so far this year.

After the market closed government data showed annual average inflation rose to 3.2 percent this month, from a record low of 3.1 percent in February and January. Consumer prices rose 6.3 percent in March from a year earlier, easing from a 6.9 percent rise in February. [ID:nCMB000044]

Sri Lanka holds parliamentary polls on April 8. For Sri Lanka’s key political risks, see [ID:nRISKLK]

The rupee LKR= closed firmer at 113.92/98 from Tuesday's close of 113.97/114.00 per dollar.

Dealers said exporters sold dollars ahead of the upcoming Sri Lankan New Year holiday season and the elections. They said they expect upward pressure on the rupee as foreign investors cash out rupee-denominated investments and seek dollars.

Sri Lanka celebrates its New Year on April 13 and 14.

The interbank lending rate or call money rate CLIBOR, rose to 9.100 percent from Tuesday's 9.049 percent.

For secondary market rates, please see <0#LKBMK=>. ($1=113.95 Sri Lankan rupees) (Editing by Bryson Hull)