COLOMBO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – The Sri Lankan rupee fell for the fourth straight session on Thursday, weighed down by foreign outflows from government securities and tracking other emerging currencies. Stocks closed steady. ** The rupee ended 0.36% weaker at 179.40/60 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 178.75/179.00, extending the loss in the last four sessions to 1.25%. The currency was down 0.2% in the last week but is up nearly 2% this year.
** Market sources said foreign investors have been exiting Sri Lankan government securities, echoing the trend in other emerging markets. The central bank is due to make a monetary policy announcement on Friday that the market expects to be neutral.
** Foreign investors bought a net 0.61 million rupees of government securities in the week ended Aug. 13, against year-to-date net foreign outflows of 28 billion rupees, central bank data shows.
** The benchmark stock index ended steady at 5,905.02. The index posted a loss of 0.82% last week, its first weekly decline in eight.
** Sri Lanka investors have been mainly in a wait-and-see mode since the main opposition party named a hardline former defence chief as its presidential candidate.
** The market has been awaiting details of former defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s campaign as well as the identity of the ruling party’s presidential candidate, who has yet to be announced, dealers said.
** So far this year, the stock index has dropped about 2.4%.
** Equity market turnover was 586.6 million Sri Lankan rupees ($3.27 million) on Thursday, less than this year’s daily average of about 653.3 million rupees so far. Last year’s daily average was 834 million.
** Foreign investors sold a net 26.1 million rupees of stocks on Thursday. They have sold a net 1.14 billion so far this year, market data showed.
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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 179.4000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; editing by John Stonestreet)