REUTERS: The Sri Lankan rupee ended steady yesterday as importer dollar demand offset greenback sales by exporters, while investors assessed the extent of damage to the economy from the recent floods and landslides, dealers said.
The country’s main agricultural crops - tea and rubber - were hit by the worst torrential rains in
Damage to agricultural exports would put pressure on the rupee, currency dealers said. Analysts said the hospitality and manufacturing sectors are likely to be the worst hit.
However, dealers said there was some optimism over expected inflows in the form of international assistance, which could help offset potential downward pressure on the local currency.
Rupee forwards were active yesterday, with spot-next forwards ending at 152.85/95 per dollar, unchanged from Friday’s close.
“The (importer dollar) demand was there after the weekend and ahead of a holiday in the middle of the week,” said a currency dealer.
“There was exporter (dollar) sales and inward remittances too.”
Dealers said the aid inflows could help the rupee, but the Central Bank will have to tighten interest rates to curb unnecessary credit growth and inflationary pressure. The floods could hurt overall economic growth and also widen the government’s budget deficit with high infrastructure spending, dealers said. The rupee has been under pressure after the Central Bank governor said on May 18 the bank would allow gradual depreciation of the currency. The spot rupee did not trade yesterday.
The Central Bank fixed the spot rupee reference rate at 152.50 on May 5.
Foreign investors bought a net Rs.740 million worth of government securities in the week ended May 31. They have sold a net Rs.41.33 billion worth of securities so far this year.