COLOMBO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - ** The Sri Lankan rupee hit an all-time low for a third straight session on Tuesday as banks and importers purchased the U.S. dollar despite the central bank’s intervention to prevent the fall, while stocks edged higher.
** The rupee dropped to an all-time low of 173.00 per dollar, surpassing its previous low of 172.50 hit on Monday, mainly due to importer demand for the greenback, market sources said.
** The rupee ended at 172.60/70 per dollar, compared with its previous close of 172.40/60. The central bank intervened to prevent further fall after it hit 173.00, market sources said. Central bank officials were not immediately available for comment. ** The central bank surprised financial markets on Oct. 2 by leaving its key policy rates unchanged despite heavy pressure on the rupee and foreign outflows from government securities.
** The rupee has weakened 2 percent so far this month after a 4.7 percent drop in September against the dollar. It dropped 12.4 percent so far this year.
** The Colombo stock index ended 0.08 percent firmer at 5,770.52, further moving away from its lowest close since Nov. 28, 2013 hit on Friday. It shed 3.6 percent last month, and lost 9.4 percent so far this year.
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** Data from the central bank showed foreign investors sold government securities worth a net 5.3 billion rupees ($30.7 million) in the week ended Oct. 17. Sri Lanka has seen a net outflow of 85.9 billion rupees in securities so far this year.
** Stock market turnover was 201 million rupees ($1.17 million) on Tuesday, nearly a quarter of this year’s daily average of 761.1 million rupees.
** Foreign investors were net sellers of shares worth 59.3 million rupees on Tuesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 9.1 billion rupees worth of equities.
$1 = 172.4000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips