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Sri Lankan shares end flat as policy uncertainty continues to weigh



Sri Lankan shares were little changed on Monday after hitting a nine-month low last week as uncertainty over the government’s monetary and budget policies continued to weigh on the market.

But foreign investors were net buyers on Monday for a second session after five straight sessions of net-selling through Thursday.

They bought a net 152.7 million rupees ($1.02 million) worth of equities on Monday, the highest since Dec. 8. However, foreign investors have been net sellers to the tune of 817.03 million rupees so far this year.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.04 percent up at 6,155.52, slightly above the lowest since April hit on Thursday. Last week the index fell 0.64 percent and was down 9.7 percent for 2016, its second straight annual decline.   The day’s turnover was at 843.6 million rupees.

“Net foreign inflow is a good sign and it will help regain the lost confidence,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

Yields on treasury bill auctions rose 5-6 basis points at a weekly auction on Wednesday, a day after the central bank governor signalled reduced intervention to defend the currency.

Shares in Hemas Holdings Plc rose 1.9 percent, while Teejay Lanka Plc gained 3.69 percent and Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc added 0.33 percent.

($1 = 149.6000 Sri Lankan rupees)

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)