Sri Lankan shares, rupee gain ahead of manifesto announcements

Sri Lankan shares and the rupee gained on Thursday, with investors waiting for policy manifestos of the two front-runners in next month's presidential poll.

COLOMBO, Oct 24 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lankan shares and the rupee gained on Thursday, with investors waiting for policy manifestos of the two front-runners in next month's presidential poll. ** Former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa will announce their policy framework on Friday and Nov. 1, respectively. Analysts had said investors were waiting to see their views on tax, subsidies and private businesses. ** Shares edged up for a sixth straight session and closed at their highest level in ten weeks, buoyed by diversified and telecom stocks. ** The benchmark stock index .CSE rose 0.47% to 5,916.28, the highest close since Aug. 15, 2019. The index has fallen 2.25% so far this year. ** The rupee LKR=LK ended 0.17% firmer at 181.10/25 per dollar, compared with Wednesday's close of 181.40/50. The currency is up 0.82% so far this year. ** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the second time in five sessions. ** They sold a net 223.5 million rupees ($1.23 million) worth of shares, extending the year to date net foreign selling to 3.94 billion rupees of equities, according to index data. ** Equity market turnover was 731.3 million rupees, more than this year's daily average of about 665.8 million rupees. Last year's daily average was 834.0 million rupees. ** Meanwhile, foreign investors sold government securities on a net basis for the eighth time in nine weeks, selling a net 724.9 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 16. ** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct. 16 stood at 55.6 billion rupees, as per central bank data. ** Sri Lanka's central bank left its key rates unchanged on Oct. 11 after loosening policy earlier this year, although growth is likely to remain subdued as the economy faces rising global risks. ** For a report on global markets, click MKTS/GLOB ** For a report on major currencies, click FRX/ ($1 = 181.1000 Sri Lankan rupees)

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

((ranga.sirilal@thomsonreuters.com; +94-11-232-5540; Reuters Messaging: ranga.sirilal.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net ; www.twitter.com/rangaba))

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