COLOMBO May 7 The Sri Lankan rupee traded flat
on Wednesday in thin trade and dealers expect the currency to be
stable in the near term until private sector credit demand and
imports pick up.
The rupee was at 130.60/65 per dollar by 0736 GMT,
little changed from Tuesday's close of 130.60/61.
"There was nothing much happening and we are awaiting to see
the direction. The rupee is under appreciation pressure, but no
big movement is taking place," said a currency dealer on
condition of anonymity.
Some dealers said central bank's dollar buying to defend the
currency from appreciation could be an "expensive exercise" now
as it tends to reduce interest rates further by increasing rupee
liquidity when the credit growth and imports are lower.
Early this year, the central bank intervened to keep the
rupee steady despite sharp volatility earlier this year and has
consistently said it will continue to intervene in the event of
The latest trade data released by the central bank on Monday
showed imports in February fell 6.2 percent, while exports edged
up 5.4 percent and reserves by end of February were sufficient
to finance 5-1/2 months of imports.
Despite a multi-year low interest rate regime, private
sector credit grew 4.4 percent in February from a year earlier,
the slowest expansion since May 2010. That compared with growth
of 5.2 percent in January and 13.3 percent in February 2013.
Dealers said lack of credit expansion and a contraction in
imports could hit economic growth unless the government props up
expansion through infrastructure funding.
The central bank, in its monetary policy statement last
month, however, expressed confidence that private sector credit
growth would rebound in the second quarter and push up the pace
of economic expansion.
Dealers expect the rupee to trade in a 130.60-130.70 range
in the near future until credit growth picks up.
The currency has been hovering between 130.55 and 130.70
since March 3, Thomson Reuters data showed, with the central
bank intervening to smoothen any sharp volatility.
Sri Lanka's main stock index was up 0.35 percent, or
21.50 points, at 6,247.63 as of 0739 GMT. Turnover was at 616.2
million rupees ($4.72 million), with 23.5 million shares
($1 = 130.5950 Sri Lanka Rupees)
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez)