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Asia, Forex

Sri Lanka shares finish at over 5-month high; rupee flat

COLOMBO, July 26 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares rose for a fourth straight session to hit their highest close in over five months on Friday, led by a rally in beverage and banking stocks along with healthy purchases by domestic investors. The rupee ended flat as inward remittances offset importer dollar demand. ** The country’s benchmark stock index ended 1.35% up at 5,872.89, its highest close since Feb. 20. ** The bourse rose 2.76% during the week. It is still down about 4.26% so far this year. ** The country’s stock market had a turnover of 1.2 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($6.81 million), nearly twice of this year’s daily average of about 615.5 million rupees so far. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors sold a net 187.4 million rupees worth of shares on Friday; the year-to-date net buying stood at 1.2 billion rupees, index data showed. ** Shares of Ceylon Cold Stores Plc jumped 19.1%, the country’s leading fixed line telephone operator Sri Lanka Telecom Plc rose 11.5%, Hatton National Bank Plc climbed 7.5% and Nestle Lanka Plc ended 4% higher. ** Meanwhile, the currency ended flat at 176.15/25 per dollar. ** The rupee fell 0.23% during the week but is up 3.66% 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 bought a net 1.22 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended July 17, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow to 18.46 billion rupees, the central bank data showed. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 176.1000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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