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COLOMBO: Sri Lankan shares fell for the fifth straight session on Friday and posted their lowest close in more than six years, dragged by telecom stocks, but foreign investors' buying capped the decline.

The market now awaits cues from the third and final vote on the 2019 budget, market sources said.

The Colombo Stock Exchange index fell 0.56 percent to 5,540.05, its lowest close since Dec. 24, 2012.

The benchmark stock index fell 1.36 percent for the week, its seventh straight weekly drop. It has declined 8.46 percent so far this year.

Turnover was 522.7 million rupees ($2.94 million), less than last year's daily average of 834 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 141.7 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, but they have been net sellers of 6 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ** Parliament last week passed the second reading of the 2019 budget that raises spending while setting an ambitious goal to reduce a large fiscal deficit. The final vote is scheduled for April 5.

The stability of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government has been questioned by the opposition since he was reinstated after a 51-day political crisis.

The rupee ended slightly weaker at 178.00/10 to the dollar on greenback demand by some banks. It had closed at 177.90/178.10 on Thursday.

The rupee has climbed 2.58 percent this year as exporters converted dollars and foreign investors purchased government securities amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January.

Copyright Reuters, 2019