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Sri Lankan shares settled higher on Wednesday after two straight sessions of losses, supported by gains in industrials and financials stocks.

The CSE All-Share index closed 0.73% up at 7,365.92.

The island nation is currently facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades, unable to pay for essential imports such as fuel and medicine due to a severe shortage of foreign exchange.

Doctors and bankers were among the hundreds of Sri Lankans who marched on Wednesday to demand that the government resolve a severe fuel shortage at the heart of the worst economic crisis or step down.

Sri Lankan shares fall as fuel shortage worsens

Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 1.6% in the January to March quarter versus the same period a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday after market close, and is expected to shrink even more in the current quarter.

A Sri Lankan government minister was in Qatar on Tuesday and another will travel to Russia at the weekend in search of energy deals to alleviate a severe fuel shortage that is crippling the island nation’s economy and forcing many schools to close.

On the CSE All-Share index, trading volume fell to 34.7 million shares from 43.8 million shares in the previous session.

Conglomerate Expolanka Holdings Plc and Ceylinco Insurance Plc were the top gainers on the index, climbing 4.3% and 16.8%, respectively.

The equity market turnover was 778.7 million rupees ($2.19 million), compared with 815.3 million rupees, according to exchange data.

Foreign investors were net buyers in the equity market, purchasing 43.1 million rupees worth of shares, while domestic investors were net sellers, offloading 770.6 million rupees worth of shares, according to exchange data.

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