Sri Lanka rupee ends weaker, stocks down 0.49-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka rupee closed weaker at 181.75/85 rupees against the US dollar in the spot market Monday, as gilt yields increased and stocks fell 0.49 percent on selling interest in Ceylon Tobacco and Trans Asia Hotels, market participants said.

The currency had traded at an intraday low of 181.85 rupees against the greenback even as the Central Bank called for proposals from investment banks to manage sovereign bond issues up to 2 billion US dollars.

The rupee closed Friday at 181.60/65 rupees against the US dollar.

On Monday, ratings agency Fitch said Sri Lanka was one of the frontier markets in Asia facing external pressure and debt refinancing risks this year.

The rating agency noted that in Asia it downgraded Pakistan and Sri Lanka in December 2018.

Bond yields gained marginally in the secondary market.

A bond maturing in 2023 closed at 11.23/28 percent in two-way quotes, up from 11.11/24 percent the previous day.

A bond maturing in 2025 ended higher at 11.38/44 percent, up from Friday’s closing of 11.25/42 percent.

A bond maturing in 2028 closed at 11.50/53 percent, narrowing from the previous close of 11.37/53 percent.

In equities, Colombo’s All Share closed 0.49 percent lower, down 29.60 points to 5,958.47, and the S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks ended 0.38 percent lower, down 11.53 points to 3,054.76.

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Market turnover was 793.3 million rupees with 80 stocks declining during the day against 58 that gained.

Ceylon Tobacco (down 16.60 rupees to 1,403.40 rupees), Trans Asia Hotels (down 11.30 rupees to 76.50 rupees) and Sri Lanka Telecom (down 1 rupee to 22 rupees) contributed the most to the benchmark index decline.

Net foreign selling was 47 million rupees, down from 410 million rupees the previous day.

Net foreign selling in Hemas Holdings was 45.2 million rupees, according to Asia Securities. The stock closed 1.60 rupees lower at 86 rupees.

There were two off-market negotiated trades, or crossings, in John Keells Holdings for 77.2 million rupees. The stock ended unchanged at 154.50 rupees. (COLOMBO, 21 January 2019)

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