October 29, 2019 / 11:59 AM / 24 days ago

Sri Lankan shares close at 13-week high; rupee weaker

COLOMBO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed at 13-week highs on Tuesday, led by financial and diversified stocks, while the rupee closed weaker on dollar demand from importers.

** Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa released his election manifesto on Friday pledging a tax overhaul that would reduce the value-added tax to 8% from the current 15%, abolish a tax for professionals and simplify many other taxes.

** Rajapaksa faces a challenge from Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa, who will announce his policy framework on Friday. Analysts said investors were waiting for Premadasa’s policies to assess the possible impacts on tax, subsidies and private businesses.

** The benchmark stock index rose for a ninth straight session, closing 0.31% higher at 5,964.25, its highest since July 29. The index posted a weekly gain of 1.2% last week, but is down 1.46% so far this year.

** Shares in Carsons Cumberbatch Plc rose 7.9%, while Dialog Axiata Plc ended up 0.8% and LOLC Holdings Plc closed 1.96% firmer.

** The rupee ended 0.06% weaker at 181.45/65 per dollar, compared with Monday’s close of 181.35/60. The currency is up 0.63% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the fifth time in eight sessions.

** They sold net 11 million rupees ($60,512) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign selling to 4.17 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** Equity market turnover was 639.7 million rupees ($3.53 million), less than this year’s daily average of about 664.6 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees.

** Meanwhile, foreign investors bought government securities on a net basis for the first time in three weeks, buying a net 1.97 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 23.

** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 23 stood at 53.63 billion rupees, according to central bank data.

** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged on Oct. 11 after loosening policy earlier 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 = 181.4500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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