COLOMBO - Sri Lankan shares fell for the sixth straight session on Tuesday and closed at their lowest in nearly two weeks as investors sold banking and diversified stocks, while the rupee ended weaker due to importer dollar demand.

** The benchmark stock index ended 0.73% down at 5,846.94, its lowest close since July 25. It gained 0.37% last week, its sixth straight weekly gain.

** So far this year, the index is down about 3.4%.

** Turnover was 546.2 million rupees ($3.08 million), less than this year's daily average of about 639.7 million rupees so far. Last year's daily average came in at 834 million rupees.

** Foreign investors sold a net 70 million rupees worth of shares on Tuesday, but they have been net buyers of 504.8 million rupees worth of equities so far this year, according to index data.

** Shares of Hatton National Bank Plc declined 3.4%, Nestle Lanka Plc fell 2.9%, LOLC Holdings Plc closed down 1.7% and conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc ended 0.8% weaker.

** Meanwhile, the rupee slipped for the seventh straight session, closing at 177.45/65 per dollar, compared with Monday's close of 176.95/177.05.

** The rupee fell 0.73% in the past seven sessions, but is up 2.9% so far this year.

** The central bank left key interest rates unchanged on July 11 as expected, after cutting them in May to support the economy as tourism and investment plummeted in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in April.

** Foreign investors sold a net 5.11 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended July 31, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 27.31 billion rupees, central bank data showed. 

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu) ((; +94-11-232-5540; Reuters Messaging: ;