COLOMBO, April 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares rose for a second straight session on Wednesday to hit a 15-week closing high, led by financial and diversified shares, a day after the central bank kept the key interest rates steady.

However, analysts said investors were cautious, ahead of an imminent loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The central bank kept benchmark rates steady, as expected, as it gauges the effect of the recent tightening amid final stages of talks with the IMF for a $1.5-billion loan to tide over a payments crisis.

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The benchmark stock index ended up 0.45 percent, or 28.95 points, at 6,434.24, its highest close since January 14.

"With the central bank holding rates steady and the news of finalising the IMF loan coming closer, investors turned positive," said Yohan Samarakkody, head of research, SC Securities (Pvt) Ltd.

A visiting IMF mission said it expected to complete negotiations with Sri Lanka for a three-year loan programme in the next two weeks.

Sri Lanka is expected to reach a staff level agreement with the IMF for a loan as early as this week, the central bank deputy governor said on Tuesday.

Foreign investors were net sellers of 41.9 million rupees ($288,309.36) worth of equities on Wednesday, extending the net foreign outflow so far this year to 2.99 billion rupees.

Turnover stood at 591.1 million rupees, less than this year's daily average of around 770.6 million rupees.

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Shares in Ceylon Cold Stores Plc rose 5.42 percent while Carson Cumberbatch Plc ended up 3.77 percent and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc gained 0.76 percent.

($1 = 145.3300 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)