October 21, 2019 / 1:29 PM / a month ago

Sri Lankan stocks end flat; rupee strengthens

COLOMBO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares closed flat on Monday, as gains in consumer staples were offset by losses in telecommunications shares, while investors also waited for policy manifestos of key presidential candidates. The rupee ended firmer. ** The benchmark stock index closed 0.01% higher at 5,863.99. The index has fallen 3.11% so far this year. ** Meanwhile, the rupee ended 0.14% firmer at 181.70/80 per dollar compared with Friday’s close of 181.95/182.10. The currency is up 0.49% so far this year. ** Foreign investors bought riskier assets for the second time in 14 sessions as campaigning got underway for the country’s presidential election scheduled on Nov. 16. ** They purchased a net 216.2 million rupees ($1.19 million) worth of shares on Monday, but they have been net sellers of 3.78 billion rupees of equities so far this year, according to index data. ** The two presidential frontrunners, former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa and housing minister Sajith Premadasa, are yet to announce their policy framework. Analysts said investors are waiting to see policies on tax, subsidies, and private businesses. ** Equity market turnover was 1.17 billion rupees ($6.44 million), well above this year’s daily average of about 664.9 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834.0 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors sold government securities on a net basis for the eighth time in nine weeks, selling a net 724.9 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 16. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 16 stood at 55.6 billion rupees, as per central bank data. ** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged last week 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 = 181.7000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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