Sri Lankan shares rise as government aims to cut fiscal deficit

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares rose broadly on Tuesday, following three straight sessions of losses, after the finance minister said the island nation aims to cut fiscal deficit by more than half.

** The benchmark stock index ended 0.53% higher at 6,108.93.

** Presenting the annual budget, Finance minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the nation aims to cut its fiscal deficit to 4% over the medium-term, from 9% currently, adding that he had a medium-term inflation target of 5% and a medium-term growth target of 6%.

** Sri Lanka’s dollar bonds surged after the finance minister’s comments, with the July 2021 issue reaching a seven-week high.

** Aiding sentiment was gains in broader stock markets after U.S. drugmaker Moderna said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing infection.

** In Colombo, freight and logistics firm Expolanka Holdings PLC was the top boost to the benchmark stock index, rising 5.8%. Sri Lanka Telecom PLC jumped 4.4%.

** On the other hand, Conglomerate Carson Cumberbatch PLC dropped 3.1%.

** Trading volume on the CSE All Share Index rose to 89.7 million from 58.4 million in the previous session.

** Foreign investors were net sellers in the equity market, offloading 138.1 million rupees ($746,083.20) worth of shares, according to exchange data.

** Equity market turnover was 2.21 billion rupees, exchange data showed.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was last quoted at 185.1 against the U.S. dollar.

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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 185.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)