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Sri Lanka rupee ends weaker as importer dollar demand weighs

February, 11, 2019

Reuters - ** Sri Lanka's rupee         
ended weaker on Friday as importers purchased U.S. dollars while
releasing goods after a week-long strike by customs officers
that left 6,000 containers stranded at the country's main port
was called off. 
** The strike by thousands of officials began a week ago in
protest at the sacking of Director General PSM Charles, who
authorities blamed for a drop in customs revenue last year. The
strike, which also put pressure on food prices, ended after the
government agreed to reinstate their boss for three months. 
            
** Stocks closed slightly firmer for a second straight session.
** The rupee closed at 177.90/178.00 per dollar, compared with
Thursday's close of 177.65/85, market sources said.
** Rupee posted a weekly loss of 0.7 percent this week due to
importer demand in the latter part of the week. 
** It rose 2.8 percent last week as exporters converted dollars
and foreign investors purchased government securities after a
statement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
government's $1 billion debt repayment boosted confidence.
** The currency has appreciated 2.6 percent so far this year. 
** Investor confidence in Sri Lanka is stabilising after the
country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January, the
central bank chief said last week.             
** 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, with a record $5.9 billion due this year,
including $2.6 billion in the first three months. 
** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the
worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign
outflows.
** The political crisis had dented investor sentiment and
delayed Sri Lanka's borrowing plans. Sri Lanka had plunged into
political turmoil when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly
removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved
parliament. Wickremesinghe was later reinstalled as premier. A
court ruled the dissolution was unconstitutional. 
** The Colombo Stock Index        ended 0.07 percent firmer at
5,964.14 on Friday. 
** Bourse fell 0.3 percent for the week, and declined 1 percent
in January.
** Turnover was 474.7 million rupees ($2.67 million), less than
last year's daily average of 834 million rupees.
** Foreign investors were net buyers for the first time in six
sessions and net bought 51.8 million rupees worth shares on
Friday. However, they have been net sellers of 3.4 billion
rupees worth of stocks so far this year, and 16.8 billion rupees
since the political crisis began on Oct. 26, 2018.
** The bond market saw inflows of 924.7 million rupees in the
week ended Jan. 30, the latest central bank data showed.

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