October 30, 2019 / 12:30 PM / 21 days ago

Sri Lankan shares slip from 13-week closing high; rupee weaker

COLOMBO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares slipped on Wednesday after nine straight sessions of gains to a 13-week closing high, while the rupee closed slightly weaker.

** The benchmark stock index ended 0.12% weaker at 5,957.27, slipping from its highest close since July 29 hit on Tuesday. The index rose 1.2% last week and 2.2% in the previous nine sessions, but is down 1.57% for the year.

** Beverage stocks were among the top losers, with Nestle Lanka Plc shedding 2.3%, Distillers company of Sri Lanka Plc down 1.7% and Commercial Bank Plc declining 0.82%.

** Investors are cautious ahead of presidential election next month. Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa released his election manifesto on Friday pledging a tax overhaul that would reduce tax to 8% from the current 15%, abolish a tax for professionals and simplify many other taxes.

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

** The rupee ended 0.03% weaker at 181.50/60 per dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 181.45/65. The currency is up 0.6% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the sixth straight session on Wednesday.

** They sold net 48 million rupees ($264,628) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign selling to 4.22 billion rupees of equities, according to index data.

** Equity market turnover was 651.97 million rupees, in line with 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 = 181.5000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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