Sri Lanka rupee weakens, stocks end 0.34-pct higher
ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka rupee closed at a new low of around 176.50/70 rupees against the US dollar Thursday, as stocks gained 0.34 percent on thin volumes amidst a deepening constitutional crisis.
Sri Lankan lawmakers were embroiled in a punch-up when parliament met earlier in the day after the speaker said he did not recognise either of the two rivals, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe, as prime minister.
"As of now, there is no prime minister, no cabinet ministers and no government in Sri Lanka," speaker Karu Jayasuriya had said. "I do not recognise anyone as prime minister."
The currency traded in the spot market at an intraday low of 176.80 rupees against the greenback, market participants said. The rupee ended the previous day at around 176.45/55 rupees.
On Wednesday Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy on Wednesday said enough foreign inflows were expected to rollover 1.5 billion dollars of debt in early 2019.
Reserves will also be boosted from expected swaps and loans to state banks from Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar, he said.
Foreign reserves had fallen to 7.2 billion US dollars by 14 November from 7.9 billion dollars in October.
Sri Lanka is defending the currency and printing money to fill liquidity shortages with a soft-peg with the US dollar under pressure, and capital outflows from bond and stock markets.
In equities, Colombo’s All Share index ended 0.34 percent higher, up 19.98 points to 5,967.34, and the S&P SL20 of more liquid stocks gained 0.59 percent, up 18.09 points to 3,105.57.
Turnover was 135.8 million rupees with 71 stocks gaining during the day against 46 that declined.
LOLC Holdings (up 2 rupees to 90 rupees), Melstacorp (up 80 cents to 51.90 rupees) and Distilleries (up 20 cents to 17 rupees) contributed to the benchmark index gain.
NDB Bank closed 3.90 rupees higher at 104.20 rupees and Dialog gained 10 cents to 11.60 rupees.
Net foreign buying was 23.4 million rupees, up from 26.8 million rupees a day earlier.
Foreign buying in Cargills was 33 million rupees, according to Asia Securities. The stock closed unchanged at 200 rupees.
Gilt yields edged higher in the secondary market.
A five-year bond maturing in 2023 closed at 11.80/12.10 percent, up from the previous closing of 11.50/90 percent.
A bond maturing in 2027 ended at 12.33/38 percent, narrowing from the previous close of 12.30/40 percent.
The Central Bank had raised policy rates by 50 basis points Wednesday and cut the reserve ratio by 150 basis points. (COLOMBO, 15 November 2018)