November 6, 2019 / 12:53 PM / 7 days ago

Sri Lankan shares at 1-week low on profit taking; rupee ends firmer

COLOMBO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended weaker on Wednesday falling for the third straight session to its one week low, as investors booked profits ahead of the presidential vote on Nov. 16

** Investor concerns were on the rise over the two top presidential candidates’ election giveaway offers, which officials and a credit rating agency warn would push the country deeper into debt. ** The International Monetary Fund approved the release of sixth tranche of a $1.5 billion loan programme for Sri Lanka, while urging authorities to show fiscal discipline. ** Sajith Premadasa, the housing minister and one of the two presidential frontrunners, has promised free housing for all, free school uniforms and meals for students, fertilisers for farmers and sanitary pads. ** His rival Gotabaya Rajapaksa has vowed to cut a 15% value added tax by nearly half and abolish some taxes, as a way to reignite consumption. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.62% weaker at 5,956.52. Last week, the index rose 1.6% in its fourth straight weekly gain, but is down 1.58% this year. ** Telecommunication stocks were among the top losers, with Sri Lanka Telecom Plc falling 2.7%. Dialog Axiata Plc ended 1.6% down, while Distillers Company of Sri Lanka Plc ended 1.7% lower. ** The rupee ended 0.17% weaker at 180.50/80 per dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 180.20/40. The currency is up 1.2% so far this year. ** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the 10th time in 11 sessions on Wednesday. ** They sold a net 28.6 million rupees ($158,448) worth of shares on Wednesday, extending the net foreign outflow so far this year to 5.77 billion rupees worth of equities, according to index data. ** Equity market turnover was 953.5 million rupees, well above this year’s daily average of about 680.9 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors bought government securities on a net basis for the second time in four weeks, buying a net 1.55 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 30. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 30 stood at 52.08 billion rupees, central bank data said. ** The central bank left its key rates unchanged on Oct. 11 after loosening policy this year, although growth is likely to remain subdued as the economy faces rising global risks.

** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 180.5000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Alison Williams)

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