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Stock market gains over 1% on banks, beverages; rupee inches higher

Reuters: Sri Lankan shares rose over 1% on Friday, posting their seventh straight weekly gain, as investors bought beverage and banking stocks.

The rupee ended slightly stronger as exporter dollar sales surpassed importer greenback demand.

The benchmark stock index ended 1.1% firmer at 5,943.11, its highest close since 30 July. It gained 0.82% for the week.

So far this year, the index is down about 1.8%.

Turnover was Rs. 1.2 billion ($6.79 million), more than this year’s daily average of about Rs. 641 million so far. Last year’s daily average came in at Rs. 834 million.

Foreign investors sold a net Rs. 66.4 million worth of shares on Friday, but they have been net buyers of Rs. 419 million worth of equities so far this year, according to index data.

Shares of Ceylon Cold Stores PLC jumped 6.3%, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC rose 6.7%, conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC ended up 1.4%, Dialog Axiata PLC gained 1.9% and biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC closed 2.7% firmer.

The rupee ended at 176.75/95 per dollar, compared with Thursday’s close of 176.80/177.00.

The rupee fell 0.73% in the seven sessions through Tuesday and 0.08% for the week, but is up nearly 3.3% so far this year.

The Central Bank left key interest rates unchanged on 11 July 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 Rs. 5.11 billion worth of Government securities in the week ended 31 July, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to Rs. 27.31 billion, Central Bank data showed.

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