Shares post over 13-week closing high; rupee firmer

REUTERS:  Sri Lankan shares rose yesterday to close at their highest in more than 13 weeks 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, 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 percent from the current 15 percent and abolish many taxes. 
Many political analysts Reuters spoke to said the tight race between the two presidential candidates was still on.


The benchmark stock index ended 0.55 percent firmer at 5,990.24, its highest close since July 29. The index rose 1.2 percent last week, but is down 1 percent for the year.
Financial and telecom stocks were among the top gainers, with Hatton National Bank Plc rising 2.9 percent, Sri Lanka Telecom Plc ending 2.2 percent firmer and Dialog Axiata Plc adding 0.8 percent.

The rupee ended 0.25 percent firmer at 181.05/30 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 181.50/60. The currency is up 0.86 percent so far this year.
Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the seventh straight session yesterday.

They sold net Rs. 102 million (US$ 563,380) worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign selling to Rs.4.32 billion of equities, according to index data.
Equity market turnover was Rs.1.28 million (US$7,069.87), well above this year’s daily average of about Rs. 667.6 million. Last year’s daily average was Rs.834 million.
Meanwhile, foreign investors bought government securities on a net basis for the first time in three weeks, buying a net Rs.1.97 billion worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 23.

Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 23 stood at Rs.53.63 billion, 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.


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