Sri Lankan rupee up on remittances; shares steady

COLOMBO Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:36am EST

COLOMBO Dec 19 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's rupee currency gained on Wednesday, helped by remittances and exporter conversions ahead of holidays, while stocks were barely changed.

The rupee firmed to 128.40/50 to the dollar compared with Tuesday's close of 128.70/75, dealers said.

"There were remittances from expatriates for their families ahead of Christmas and there was also exporter conversions in the absence of importer demand for dollars," a currency dealer said on condition of anonymity.

Colombo Stock Exchange's main index edged up 0.09 percent or 4.84 points to close at 5,512.66.

Telecom shares provided the standout performances, with top mobile phone operator Dialog Axiata and leading fixed line operator Sri Lanka Telecom gaining 3.8 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.

Analysts said fall in interest rates should attract more investors to the stock market from January.

Total turnover was 464.3 million rupees ($3.61 million), around half of this year's daily average of 891.9 million rupees. Foreign investors were net buyers of 105.2 million rupees worth of shares, extending the net foreign buying so far this year to 36.6.94 billion rupees.

Treasury bill yields eased between 21-27 basis points at a weekly auction on Wednesday in line with the central bank's rate cut last week., ($1 = 128.7500 Sri Lanka rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)