Sri Lanka rupee opens weaker

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka rupee opened sharply weaker Friday breaching 179 rupees against the US dollar, market participants said, amidst a worsening constitutional crisis.

Sri Lanka’s Parliament is due to sit at 10.30 am Friday to set up a select committee to probe a riot triggered by legislators loyal to Mahinda Rajapaksa who were obstructing a vote of no-confidence against him.

The political crisis, which began a month earlier when president Maithripala Sirisena ousted Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister replacing him with Rajapaksa, is turning into an economic crisis.

Capital flight from bond markets have intensified  and tens of billions of rupees being printed by the central bank to keep interest rates down after intervening in forex markets.

The first downgrade has come from Moody’s who cut Sri Lanka speculative B1 rating to B2, with a stable outlook at the lower level.

The rupee was quoted at around 178.70/179.30 rupees against the greenback in early spot market trading Friday, down from Wednesday’s closing of 178.40/70. Markets were closed on Thursday.

Gilt yields were somewhat steady in dull early secondary market trading.

A three-year bond maturing in 2021 opened at 11.90/12.05, up slightly from the previous closing of 11.80/12.00 percent.

A five-year bond maturing in 2023 was quoted at 11.95/12.02, narrowing from the previous closing of 11.90/12.20 percent.

An eight year bond maturing in 2028 was at 12.35/45 percent, edging lower from Wednesday’s closing of 12.40/50.

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In equities, Colombo’s All Share index edged 0.06 percent higher in early trading, up 3.53 points to 5,953.72, and the S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks gained 0.15 percent, up 4.70 points to 3,119.21.

Sampath Bank was up 2.60 rupees to 233 rupees and LOLC Finance was trading 10 cents higher at 3.60 rupees.

 

Sri Lanka Telecom gained 20 cents to 21.20 in early trading and Chevron Lubricants was up 1.20 rupees to 71.50 rupees. (COLOMBO, 23 November 2018)

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