Sri Lanka shares snap 8-session rally on profit-taking; rupee falls

COLOMBO, July 22 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed lower on Monday, snapping an eight-session gaining streak, as investors booked profits, while the rupee weakened on higher importer dollar demand. ** The country’s benchmark stock index ended down 0.97% at 5,659.77.

**The index is down about 6.49% so far this year. ** The country’s stock market had a turnover of 209.4 million rupees ($1.19 million), nearly a third of this year’s daily average of about 608.5 million rupees so far. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees.

** Foreign investors bought a net 14.4 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 1.49 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year, index data showed.

** Among the prominent losers are conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc, which fell 1.8%, Carson Cumberbatch Plc , down 7.3%, the country’s biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon, shedding 0.9%, Nestle Lanka Plc, losing 5.2%, and Dialog Axiata Plc, ending 1.8% weaker. ** Meanwhile, the currency ended 0.09% weaker at 175.90/176.00 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 175.75/85, as importer demand for the greenback outpaced the dollar selling by banks.

** The rupee is up 3.81% so far this year. ** The central bank left key interest rates unchanged on July 11 as expected, after cutting them in May to support the economy as tourism and investment plummeted in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in April. ** Foreign investors bought a net 1.22 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended July 17, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow to 18.46 billion rupees, the central bank data showed. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 175.8000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; editing by Uttaresh.V)