Sri Lanka rupee firmer on dollar sales; stocks end weaker

Reuters - Sri Lanka's rupee          rose
0.9 percent on Wednesday on banks' dollar sales from inward
remittances, while foreign investors purchased short-term bills.
Stocks ended weaker.
** The rupee closed at 179.30/60 per dollar, compared with
Tuesday's close of 180.90/179.15, market sources said. On Jan.
3, the rupee dropped to an all-time low of 183.00 against the
dollar.
** The currency has appreciated 2 percent so far this year. 
** Investor confidence in Sri Lanka is stabilising after the
country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January,
Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy told
Reuters on Monday.             
** However, investors maintained a cautious stance, awaiting
cues about the government's borrowing and repayment of foreign
loans, analysts told Reuters. The government paid $1 billion
five-year sovereign bond borrowing this month.
** Worries over heavy debt repayment after a 51-day political
crisis have dented investor sentiment as the county 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 central bank chief on Jan. 14 said about $5 billion
borrowing in the pipeline could help debt repayments.  
            
** The International Monetary Fund on Jan. 16 said it would
resume discussions for further disbursal of part of a $1.5
billion loan amid investor worries of heavy debt repayments.
** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the
worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign
outflows.
** The rupee has declined 3.5 percent since a political crisis
started in October. The political crisis had dented investor
sentiment and delayed Sri Lanka's borrowing plans.
** Sri Lanka was plunged into political turmoil when President
Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later
ruled the move was unconstitutional. Wickremesinghe was
reinstalled as premier.
** A series of credit rating downgrades after the political
crisis made it tough for the island nation to borrow as it faces
record high repayments.
** The Colombo Stock Index        ended 0.1 percent weaker at
5,991.29 on Wednesday. The bourse dropped 0.16 percent last
week, while the benchmark index lost 5 percent in 2018.
** Turnover was 736.7 million rupees ($4.11 million), more than
last year's daily average of 834 million rupees.
** Foreign investors net bought 23.4 million rupees worth shares
on Wednesday. But they have been net sellers of 2.2 billion
rupees worth of stocks so far this year and 15.6 billion rupees
since the political crisis began on Oct. 26, 2018.
** The bond market saw an inflow of 4.7 billion rupees in the
week ended Jan. 23. But the market saw an outflows of 81.9
billion rupees between Oct. 25 and Jan. 23, the latest central
bank data showed.


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