COLOMBO, June 18 The Sri Lankan rupee traded
little changed on Wednesday, at its highest level in nearly a
year after the central bank held interest rates steady at
multi-year lows, dealers said.
Demand for the greenback from importers helped offset inward
remittances, dealers said. Also, dollar-buying by a state bank
prevented any volatility in the local currency, they said.
The rupee was at 130.22/25 per dollar at 0533 GMT,
its highest since June 28 last year, and little changed from
Tuesday's close at 130.22/26.
The central bank kept policy rates steady at multi-year lows
on Wednesday for a fifth straight month as it expects lending to
pick up in the second half of 2014.
"We expect the bids to come down further with lower
imports," a currency dealer said on condition of anonymity.
The central bank in a statement said it did not see much
demand for imports in April, while the private sector credit
growth contracted 3.3 percent year-on-year in the same month,
its worst performance since January 2010. The credit grew 4.3
percent in March.
"In view of the increased foreign currency inflows, the
central bank has also absorbed around $550 million from the
domestic foreign exchange market," the central bank said in the
One of the two state banks, through which the central bank
directs the market, bought dollars from select banks at 130.23
rupees, dealers said.
The central bank bought dollars at 130.35 rupees on May 30
but started reducing its buying from then, allowing a gradual
appreciation in the rupee.
Central bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Reuters on
June 6 that the rupee was facing appreciation pressure. The bank
was condoning the trend on a gradual basis to allow all
stakeholders adjust to the changes.
He had said earlier that the central bank would keep
intervening in the currency market to prevent a rapid rise in
Dealers said the central bank's intervention has prevented
gains in the currency and they expect the rupee to face upward
pressure until credit growth and imports pick up.
Sri Lanka's main stock index was down 0.19 percent,
or 12.03 points, at 6,332.38 as of 0545 GMT. Turnover was 409.4
million Sri Lanka rupees ($3.1 million), with 13.6 million
shares changing hands.
($1 = 130.2000 Sri Lankan Rupees)
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Anand