(Colombo) REUTERS: Sri Lanka's rupee ended weaker yesterday, as dollar demand from importers weighed on the currency, market sources said.
The stock market also closed weaker at a near four-month low, as foreign investors sold the island nation's risky assets.
The rupee, ended at 178.65/85, compared with Thursday's close of 178.50/70, market sources said.
The local currency posted a weekly loss of 0.42 percent for the week due to high dollar demand from importers and outflows from the stock market.
It has risen 2.2 percent so far this year as exporters converted dollars and foreign investors purchased government securities amid stabilising investor confidence in Sri Lanka after the country repaid a US$1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January. The bond market saw inflows of Rs. 11.4 billion (US$63.87 million) in the week ended Feb. 6, recording its third straight weekly inflow, the latest Central Bank data showed.
Worries over heavy debt repayment after a 51-day political crisis that resulted in a series of credit rating downgrades dented investor sentiment as the country is struggling to repay its foreign loans.
The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows.
The Colombo Stock Exchange index ended 0.39 percent weaker at 5,909.30 yesterday, its lowest close since Oct. 26.
The benchmark index fell 0.92 percent for the week after it lost 0.3 last week, and declined about 1 percent in January.
The turnover was Rs. 965.6 million (US$5.41 million), more than last year’s daily average of Rs. 834 million.
Foreign investors were net sellers of Rs. 590 million worth shares yesterday. They have been net sellers of Rs. 5.2 billion worth of stocks so far this year, and Rs. 18.6 billion since the political crisis began on Oct. 26, 2018.