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Sri Lanka shares close lower as financial stocks drag

Jan 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended lower on Monday, weighed down by losses in financial stocks, while drug distributor Muller and Phipps (Ceylon) fell by the most in nearly eight years before paring some losses.

** The benchmark bucked a rally in broader Asian stocks, which touched their highest level since June 2018 ahead of the expected signing of a Phase 1 China-U.S. trade deal, although markets have yet to see details of the agreement.

** The country’s benchmark stock index closed down 0.11% at 5,980.67.

** The Sri Lankan rupee was down 0.14% against the U.S. dollar at 181.55, as of 1040 GMT, after closing at 181.30 in the previous session, according to Refinitiv data.

** Shares of Muller & Phipps (Ceylon) Plc were the top loser on the index, falling as much as 20% to mark their biggest intraday percentage fall since February 2012.

** Shares of Nation Lanka Finance Plc fell more than 9%, while Bimputh Finance Plc lost over 8%.

** Foreign investors were net sellers in the equity market, off-loading 551.8 million Sri Lankan rupees ($3.04 million) worth of shares, exchange data showed.

** Equity market turnover was 1.08 billion Sri Lankan rupees, the data showed.

** For a report on global markets, click

** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 181.4500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)