Sri Lankan shares end at 17-month high; rupee slips

Reuters – Sri Lankan shares closed at a 17-month high on Friday, helped by positive sentiment surrounding tax cuts by the country’s new government, while the rupee ended a tad weaker. ** The government said on Wednesday it had decided to reduce value-added tax to 8% from 15% from Dec. 1, and abolish some other taxes as well, in its attempt to boost economic growth that has fallen to a near two-decade low. ** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key interest rates unchanged on Friday, as widely expected. ** The benchmark stock index closed up 0.17% at 6,211.97, its highest since June 25, 2018. The bourse gained 1.5% last week, and is up 2.64% for the year. ** The rupee ended 0.14% weaker at 180.85/181.00 per dollar, compared to Thursday’s close of 180.60/80, Refinitiv data showed. It is up 0.6% so far this year. ** Foreign investors were net sellers for 24 sessions out of 26. ** They sold a net 472.7 million Sri Lankan rupees ($2.63 million) worth of shares on Friday, extending the net selling so far this year to 10.74 billion rupees worth of equities, according to index data. ** Equity market turnover was 1.61 billion rupees, more than this year’s daily average of about 725 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors were net buyers of government securities on a net basis for the fifth straight week, purchasing a net 0.21 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Nov. 20. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Nov. 20 stood at 48 billion rupees, according to central bank data.

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