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|19 March, 2019

Sri Lanka shares fall to more than 6-year low on foreign selling; rupee weaker

The Colombo Stock Exchange index fell 0.42 percent to 5,591.67, hovering near its lowest close since Dec. 26, 2012

COLOMBO - Sri Lanka's share index fell for the third straight session on Tuesday to a more than 6-year closing low in light trading volume with foreign investors on the selling side, as the market awaits direction from the third and final vote on the 2019 budget, market sources said.

** Parliament last week passed the second reading of the 2019 budget that raises spending while setting an ambitious goal to reduce a large fiscal deficit. The final vote is scheduled for April 5.

** The stability of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government has been questioned by the opposition since he was reinstated after a 51-day political crisis.

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** The Colombo Stock Exchange index fell 0.42 percent to 5,591.67, hovering near its lowest close since Dec. 26, 2012.

** The benchmark stock index fell 1.85 percent last week, recording its sixth straight weekly drop. It has declined 7.6 percent this year.

** Turnover was 291.3 million rupees ($1.63 million), well below last year's daily average of 834 million rupees.

** Foreign investors sold a net 182.6 million rupees worth of shares, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow of 6.15 billion rupees worth of equities.

** The rupee nded weaker at 178.40/50 to the dollar on demand for dollars from some foreign banks, compared with Monday's close of 178.25/40.

** The rupee has climbed 2.35 percent this year as exporters converted dollars and foreign investors purchased government securities amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January.

** Worries over heavy debt repayment after the 51-day political crisis that resulted in a series of credit-rating downgrades denting investor sentiment as the country struggled to repay its foreign loans.

** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows.

** Foreign investors bought a net 1.16 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week that ended on March 13, the second net inflow in four weeks, but they have sold a net 1.7 billion rupees this year, the latest central bank data showed.

($1 = 178.4000 Sri Lankan rupees)

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez Editing by Robert Birsel) ((mailto:ranga.sirilal@thomsonreuters.com; +94-11-232-5540; Reuters Messaging: ranga.sirilal.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net ; www.twitter.com/rangaba))

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