November 25, 2019 / 1:00 PM / 19 days ago

Sri Lankan shares, rupee fall; new leader's policy direction awaited

COLOMBO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares closed at a more than one-week low on Monday on profit-taking in banking and beverage shares, while the rupee ended weaker as investors awaited for some policy direction and clarity over the country’s newly elected president. ** Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new president, appointed his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, the current prime minister, as the interim government’s new finance minister. ** The benchmark stock index ended down 0.58% at 6,083.74, its lowest close since Nov. 15 and further moving away from its highest close since Aug. 9, 2018 hit last week. The bourse gained 1.6% last week, and is up 0.52% for the year. ** Analysts said the investors are awaiting to see new policies of the government.

** “The market came off due to profit taking. Investors are anxiously waiting for directions and policy clarity from the new president,” said Hussain Gani, deputy chief executive officer at Softlogic Securities. ** President Rajapaksa has appointed a 15-member cabinet and is expected to appoint junior ministers on Tuesday. That will follow the appointments of officials to head state-owned firms, government officials say.

** The rupee ended 0.47% weaker at 180.85/181.05 per dollar, slipping from Friday’s close of 180.00/20, Refinitiv data showed. It is up 0.96% so far this year. ** Foreign investors were net buyers for the first time in 13 sessions on Monday. ** They bought a net 74.8 million rupees ($415,556) worth of shares on Monday, but they have been net sellers of 9.18 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year, according to index data. ** Equity market turnover was 662.6 million rupees, less than this year’s daily average of about 709.3 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors were net buyers of government securities on a net basis for the fifth straight week, purchasing a net 0.21 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Nov. 20. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Nov. 20 stood at 48 billion rupees, central bank data said. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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