COLOMBO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at its lowest level in over seven months as foreign fund outflows from government securities rose, while stocks extended losses for the third straight session. ** The rupee ended weaker at 180.80/181.00 per dollar, its lowest since Jan. 28. It closed at 180.75/90 on Thursday. However, the currency is up 1% this year.
** Foreign investors sold government securities worth 25.2 billion rupees in the two weeks ended on Aug. 28, data showed, extending the net foreign outflow to 53.2 billion rupees through Aug. 28, central bank data showed.
** However, a senior central bank official said on Thursday that outflows from the government securities have been settling following the central bank’s rate cut last month.
** The central bank lowered rates for the second time in four months on Aug. 23 to boost sluggish growth after tourism and investments plummeted following deadly Easter Day bomb attacks by Islamist militants. ** Central bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy after the policy said the bank was ready to cope with the outflow of total $700 million foreign funds invested in Sri Lankan government securities. Exit of some funds had resulted in some pressure on the local currency. ** Meanwhile, the benchmark stock index fell 0.88% to 5,798.57, its lowest close since July 25. For the week, it fell 1.6%.
** Investors have been in a wait-and-watch mode since the main opposition party named a hardline former defence chief as its presidential candidate. ** So far this year, the stock index has dropped about 4.2%. ** Equity market turnover was 631 million rupees ($3.49 million)($2.87 million) on Friday, a little less than this year’s daily average of about 650.8 million rupees so far. Last year’s daily average was 834 million. ** Foreign investors sold a net 80.3 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 1.73 billion rupees worth of equities, according to index data. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 180.8000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; editing by Uttaresh.V)