COLOMBO, July 28 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended slightly firmer on Thursday, snapping three sessions of losses as investors picked up diversified and manufacturing shares, while the market awaited directions on the country's economic policy.

The benchmark Colombo stock index ended up 0.15 percent, 9.73 points, at 6,392.15.

"There was institutional buying today, and the good thing is that we saw renewed interest from foreigners as well," said Yohan Samarakkody, head of research, SC Securities (Pvt) Ltd.

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Analysts said investors are awaiting directions from the policy rates; the announcement is due later in the day at 1230 GMT.

Sri Lanka's central bank is expected to keep its key interest rates steady for a fifth straight month on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, despite signs that inflation and private sector credit growth are picking up.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to announce the country's economic policy next month.

Turnover stood at 991.5 million rupees ($6.81 million), its highest since July 14 and well above this year's daily average of around 727.4 million rupees.

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Overseas investors were net sellers of 4.78 billion rupees worth of shares so far this year, but they were net buyers of 17.4 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday.

Shares in CT Holdings Plc jumped 5.74 percent while Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Plc rose 0.99 percent, pushing the overall index up.

($1 = 145.7000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)