COLOMBO, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares edged lower on Thursday, hovering near a two-week closing low hit early in the week, as investors sold banking and telecom stocks. ** The rupee ended slightly stronger as exporter dollar sales surpassed importer greenback demand.
** The benchmark stock index ended 0.19% weaker at 5,878.26, hovering near its lowest close since July 25 hit on Tuesday. It gained 0.37% last week, its sixth straight weekly gain.
** So far this year, the index is down about 2.9%.
** Turnover was 468.1 million rupees ($2.65 million), less than this year’s daily average of about 637.3 million rupees so far. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees.
** Foreign investors sold a net 12.1 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday, but they have been net buyers of 485.4 million rupees worth of equities so far this year, according to index data.
** Shares of biggest listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc fell 1.8%, Dialog Axiata Plc lost 1.8%, Sri Lanka Telecom Plc closed 1.7% down.
** The rupee ended at 176.80/177.00 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 177.40/55.
** The rupee fell 0.73% in the seven sessions through Tuesday, but is up nearly 3.3% 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. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 176.6000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)