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Sri Lankan shares steady at 7-month high; economic policy awaited

COLOMBO, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended steady at over seven-month high as investors awaited the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led government to announce its economic policies after the election victory.

Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party (UNP) is expected to form a stable government along with President Maithripala Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), to help pass promised reforms.

The main stock index ended 0.08 points firmer, at 7,498.78, its highest close since Jan. 16.

"Local investors were active on hopes of a stable government," Danushka Samarasinghe, research head at Softlogic Stockbrokers, told Reuters.

A strong result for the UNP would likely help Ranil Wickremesinghe to continue as the prime minister of a centre-right government that would seek to revive stalled reforms to make the government more open and accountable.

"Improved economic policy credibility and coherence would strengthen Sri Lanka’s resilience to growing investor uncertainty towards emerging Asia," Fitch said in a statement.

The day’s turnover stood at 2.3 billion rupees ($17.2 million), more than double of this year’s daily average of 1.14 billion rupees.

Foreign investors sold a net 61.5 million rupees worth of equities on Wednesday, extending the net foreign outflow to 1.29 billion rupees so far this year.

Shares in Bukit Daraha Plc rose 3.15 percent, while Ceylon Tobacco Co Plc rose 0.17 percent, pushing the index higher.





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