Sri Lanka rupee edges down; stocks end tad firmer

Reuters – The Sri Lankan rupee closed tad weaker on Tuesday, while stocks ended tad firmer in thin trade after a long weekend. ** The currency ended at 174.60/75 to the dollar, lower than Friday’s close of 174.45/55. The markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday in lieu of traditional new year that fell on Sunday. ** Traders expect lower trade in both currency and stock markets in the three-day week as Friday is also being declared as a public holiday. ** The island nation’s currency gained 0.26 percent last week, and 4.7 percent so far this year, as exporters converted dollars amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January. ** Sri Lanka was plunged into political turmoil in October last year when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move was unconstitutional, and Wickremesinghe was reinstalled as premier. ** Investor sentiment took a big hit as a result of the 51-day political crisis, leading to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds from government securities. ** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows. ** Foreign investors sold a net 2 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended April 10, the second weekly fall in six weeks, the latest central bank data showed. ** The Colombo Stock Exchange index ended 0.1 percent firmer at 5,591.83. ** The benchmark stock index fell 0.6 percent last week, recording its first weekly fall in three. The index has declined 7.6 percent so far this year. ** Turnover came in at 173 million rupees ($990,836.20), less than this year’s daily average of 605 million rupees. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors bought a net 31.4 million rupees worth of shares on Tuesday, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow to 6.04 billion rupees worth of equities. 

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