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Sri Lankan shares edge down on profit taking; rupee ends higher

(Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended marginally lower on Wednesday from their highest level in more than a year hit in the previous session, as investors booked profits after a post-election rally, while the rupee rose to a nearly three-month peak.

** Former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday won presidential election and assumed office on Tuesday as the seventh president of the island nation.

** Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will resign this week, a spokesman from his office said on Wednesday, after his party’s candidate lost a presidential election. ** Rajapaksa made national security his top priority after being sworn in on Monday. Majority of Sinhala Buddhists voted for him after he campaigned on promises to make the nation safer in the aftermath of the Easter bombings earlier this year.

** The benchmark stock index, which rose 0.53% in the early trade, ended 0.07% weaker at 6,138.59, edging down from its highest close since Aug. 9, 2018 hit on Tuesday. The bourse rose 1.53% last week, and it is up 1.42% for the year.

** “We believe the investor sentiment is positive and it continues to be positive with the political stability on top of the low interest rate regime. Today, the market came off as investors booked profits while the local retail investors turned towards mid cap shares,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at broker First Capital Holdings.

** The rupee ended 0.1% firmer at 179.20/40 per dollar, its highest since Aug. 21. It closed at 179.25/50 on Tuesday and is up 1.89% so far this year.

** Foreign investors were net sellers of riskier assets for the tenth straight session on Wednesday.

** They sold a net 624.3 million Sri Lankan rupees ($3.48 million) worth of shares on Wednesday, extending the net foreign outflow from the equities market to 8.9 billion rupees for the year, according to index data.