Sri Lanka rupee extends gains on dollar sales by bank; stocks steady

COLOMBO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - ** Sri Lanka's rupee
closed firmer for a second straight session on Friday, helped by
dollar selling by banks and after the IMF said it would resume
discussions with the island nation for further disbursal of part
of a $1.5 billion loan and the central bank chief said around $5
borrowing in the pipeline could help debt repayments.
** Sri Lanka will receive a loan of $1 billion from Bank of
China before the end of the January-March quarter,
Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy told Reuters on
Thursday, and is in discussions to borrow nearly $5 billion to
help the country meet repayments in the coming months.
** Sri Lanka 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.
** After a meeting with Sri Lanka's Finance Minister Mangala
Samaraweera, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on
Wednesday the discussions would resume in February, after a
political crisis led to talks being delayed by three months.
** The rupee ended at 181.50/65 per dollar on Friday, compared
with 181.60/75 in the previous session, with a foreign bank
selling dollars, market sources said. On Jan.3, the rupee fell
to an all-time low of 183.00 against the dollar.
** The rupee fell 19 percent in 2018, making it one of the
worst-performing currencies in Asia, according to Refinitiv
data, due to heavy foreign outflows.
** Coomaraswamy on Thursday said the sharp depreciation was a
powerful "pro-growth inducement" for the country's exports.
** The rupee has declined 4.7 percent since a political crisis
started in October. That crisis had dented investor sentiment
and delayed Sri Lanka's borrowing plans.
** A series of credit rating downgrades have made it harder for
Sri Lanka to borrow as it faces record high repayments.
** The Colombo Stock Index ended 0.02 percent weaker at
5,988.07 on Friday. The benchmark index lost 5 percent in 2018.
** Turnover was 660.8 million rupees ($3.64 million), less than
last year's daily average of 834 million rupees.
** Foreign investors sold a net 410.5 million rupees worth of
shares on Friday. They have been net sellers of 15.7 billion
rupees worth of stocks since a political crisis began on Oct.
26. The bond market saw outflows of 77.9 billion rupees between
Oct. 25 and Jan. 9, the latest central bank data showed.
** Foreign investors pulled a net 22.8 billion rupees out of
stocks last year, while they net sold 159.8 billion rupees from
government securities from January through Dec. 26, bourse and
central bank showed data.
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($1 = 181.4000 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu)

2019-01-18 13:44:19

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