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Sri Lankan shares dropped on Tuesday as industrials and financial stocks fell, with investors worried over the country’s economic crisis that has fuelled already-high inflation.

The CSE All-Share index fell 2.66% to 10,284.30 points, falling for a third straight session.

Sri Lanka will start official talks with the International Monetary Fund next month, a cabinet spokesman said on Tuesday, as the government seeks to stave off the island-nation’s worst economic crisis in years amid growing protests.

Opposition leaders led a march of hundreds of protesters through Sri Lanka’s main city of Colombo on Tuesday as anger grows over a worsening economic crisis that has led to fuel shortages and spiralling food prices.

A devaluation of its currency last week has further stoked already rocketing inflation and brought more distress to ordinary Sri Lankans who have been dealing with rolling power cuts and fuel shortages.

“Investors are trying to figure out what is happening with the evolving economic crisis, devaluation, fuel price hikes, rising interest rates and talks with the IMF,” said Shehan Cooray, head of research at Acuity stockbrokers, Colombo.

Sri Lankan shares fall as higher crude prices drive inflation worries

“People are taking a risk-off approach and staying on the sidelines until there is more clarity,” Cooray said.

Conglomerates Expolanka Holdings Plc and Lanka Orix Leasing Company Plc were top drags, falling 7% and 5.65% respectively.

Foreign investors were net buyers in the equity market, purchasing shares worth nearly 135.52 million Sri Lankan rupees ($501,925.93), while domestic investors were net sellers, offloading 1.63 billion rupees worth of shares, exchange data showed.

Equity market turnover was 1.67 billion rupees.

Trading volume rose to 90.12 million shares from 51.4 million shares in the previous session.

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