Sri Lanka rupee sharply down, stocks surge 1.9-pct
ECONOMYNEXT – The rupee closed weaker at around 173.80/174.00 rupees against the US dollar in the spot market Monday amidst a constitutional crisis and gilt yields ended sharply higher and stocks surged 1.92 percent, the highest gain in four years, market participants said.
The rupee traded at an all-time low of 174.30 rupees earlier in the day, market participants said.
The rupee had opened Monday at 174.00/50 rupees in two way quotes against the greenback, weakening from Friday’s 173.05/20 rupees closing.
In early trade the rupee appeared to float, but it is not clear whether the rupee floated cleanly. A clean float would restore confidence quickly, and end further sterilization, taking away pressure on the currency.
Colombo’s All Share index rose sharp 1.92 percent, up 112.22 points to 5,944.18, and the S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks gained 2.04 percent, up 61.26 points to 3,058.59.
Brokers said turnover was mostly driven by strategic investments in John Keells Holdings and Distilleries, while speculative retail play was also seen lifting the bourse.
Market turnover was 4.16 billion rupees, with 165 stocks making gains against 18 that declined.
John Keells Holdings contributed 2.97 billion rupees to the day’s turnover. The stock was up 1.80 rupees to 141.90 rupees. There were six crossings in John Keells Holdings for 2.8 billion rupees with foreigners on the sell side.
Distilleries (up 1 rupees to 18 rupees), Commercial Bank (up 3.70 rupees to 114 rupees) and Hemas Holdings (up 6 rupees to 90 rupees) contributed to the benchmark index’s sharp gain.
Access Engineering was up 2 rupees to 15.80 rupees and MTD Walkers ended 1.80 rupees higher at 9.80 rupees.
Net foreign selling was 3 billion rupees, up from 48.3 million rupees the previous day.
Foreign selling in John Keells Holdings was 2.8 billion rupees, followed by 167 million rupees in Hatton National Bank, according to Asia Securities.
Hatton National Bank closed 1.70 rupees higher at 210 rupees.
Off-market negotiated trades, or crossings, amounted to 3.5 billion rupees and was 84 percent of market turnover.
Apart from the six crossings at John Keells Holdings, there were six in Hatton National Bank for 416.6 million rupees and one in Softlogic Holdings for 303 million rupees.
Softlogic Holdings was up 80 cents to 20.40 rupees.
Gilt yields rose sharply in the secondary market as Moody’s Investors Service, a rating agency said Sri Lanka’s political crisis was credit negative.
A three-year bond maturing in 2021 ended higher at 11.20/30 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent the previous day.
A five-year bond maturing in 2023 closed at 11.40/60 percent, up from the previous close of 11.35/40 percent. (COLOMBO, 29 October 2019)