COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s rupee closed steady yesterday as dollar selling by exporters offset importer demand for the greenback, while stocks edged higher for a third straight session.
The rupee closed at 181.60/80 per dollar, unchanged from Thursday’s close, market sources said. On Jan. 3, the rupee fell to an all-time low of 183.00 against the dollar.
The currency has appreciated 0.55 percent so far this year.
Investors have been waiting for some cues over the government’s borrowing and repayment of foreign loans, analysts have told Reuters.
Worries over heavy debt repayment after a 51-day political crisis have dented investor sentiment as the county is struggling to repay its foreign loans, with a record US$5.9 billion due this year including US$2.6 billion in the first three months.
The Central Bank chief last week said around US$5 billion borrowing in the pipeline could help debt repayments.
The International Monetary Fund last week said it would resume discussions for further disbursal of part of a US$1.5 billion loan amid investor worries of heavy debt repayments.
The rupee fell 16 percent in 2018 and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows.
The rupee has declined 4.7 percent since a political crisis started in October. That crisis had dented investor sentiment and delayed Sri Lanka’s borrowing plans.
A series of credit rating downgrades after the political crisis have made it harder for Sri Lanka to borrow as it faces record high repayments.
The Colombo Stock Index ended 0.3 percent firmer at 5,978.30 yesterday. The bourse fell 0.16 percent for the week. The benchmark index lost 5 percent in 2018.
Turnover was Rs.460.8 million rupees (US$2.54 million), less than last year’s daily average of Rs.834 million rupees.
Foreign investors were net sellers for the first time in four sessions. They sold a net Rs.22.9 million worth of shares yesterday. They have been net sellers of Rs.2.07 billion worth of stocks so far this year and Rs.15.5 billion since the political crisis began on Oct. 26.
The bond market saw outflows of Rs.86.7 billion between Oct. 25 and Jan. 16, the latest Central Bank data showed.