May 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares rose on Thursday, riding on gains in financial and consumer staples stocks.
** The benchmark stock index, which has fallen 21.9% so far this year, closed up 2.78% at 4,784.8.
** Sri Lanka’s April national consumer price index grew at 5.9% on a year-over-year basis, compared with 7% in March.
** The news came a day after rating agency S&P lowered the country’s sovereign rating to “B-,” citing fiscal deterioration due to the coronavirus pandemic
** S&P also forecast that the virus outbreak would push Sri Lanka’s economy into recession in 2020
** Among top boosts to the index were shares of Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, which rose 14.2%, and Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc, which advanced 12.6%.
** Foreign investors were net sellers in the equity market, offloading 1.38 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($7.40 million) worth of shares, according to exchange data.
** The Sri Lankan rupee was quoted at 186.5 against the U.S. dollar as of 1008 GMT, 0.27% stronger compared to the previous session’s close of 187, according to Refinitiv data. The currency has fallen 3.14% this year.
** Equity market turnover was 2.3 billion Sri Lankan rupees, data showed.
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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 186.5000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Derek Francis; Editing by Anil D’Silva)