November 1, 2019 / 11:50 AM / 21 days ago

Sri Lankan shares post 10-month closing high; rupee edges down

COLOMBO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares rose on Friday in high turnover and closed at their highest in 10 months, as investors took positions two weeks ahead of presidential polls, analysts said.

** Sajith Premadasa, the housing minister and one of the two presidential front-runners, on Thursday announced his election manifesto, which is seen by analysts as a “broader policy framework”. His close rival Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pledged a tax overhaul that would reduce tax to 8% from the current 15% and abolish many taxes. ** Many political analysts Reuters spoke to have said the tight race between the two presidential candidate was still on.

** The benchmark stock index ended 0.7% firmer at 6,032.08, its highest close since Jan. 4. The index rose 1.6% for the week in its fourth weekly gain, but is down 0.34% for the year.

** Financial and telecom stocks were among the top gainers, with Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc jumping 4.6%, while Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka rose 2.9%, Hemas Holdings Plc finished up 0.62% and Sri Lanka Telecom Plc ended 1.9% firmer.

** The rupee ended 0.03% weaker at 181.10/25 per dollar, compared with Thursday’s close of 181.05/30. The currency is up 0.83% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the seventh straight session on Thursday.

** They sold net 123.5 million rupees ($681,944) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign selling to 4.44 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** Equity market turnover was 1.79 billion rupees ($9.88 million), nearly three times of this year’s daily average of about 667.6 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 = 181.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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