June 26, 2018 / 11:59 AM / a year ago

Sri Lankan rupee closes firmer on exporter dollar sales

COLOMBO, June 26 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee ended firmer on Tuesday as exporter dollar selling and inward remittances surpassed demand for the greenback from importers, dealers said.

The rupee, ended at 158.10/40 per dollar, compared with Monday’s close of 158.70/90.

The spot rupee hit an all-time low of 160.17 per dollar on Wednesday and is down 3.5 percent so far this year.

“Today, we have seen some exporter (dollar) sales and inward remittances due to the salary payments,” a currency dealer said.

“State banks were on the selling side today also.”

The pressure on the rupee has shown signs of easing after the island nation received more than half a billion dollars from a Chinese port operator last week.

China Merchants Port Holdings has made a $584 million payment as part of a $1.12 billion deal to operate the deep sea Hambantota port.

Dealers said they expect the rupee to trade in the 163-165 per dollar range by the end of the year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday Sri Lanka’s economy remains vulnerable to adverse shocks because of sizable public debt and large refinancing needs.

Head of the IMF mission to Sri Lanka, Manuela Goretti, told reporters after markets hours on Wednesday that she expected the currency to remain under pressure.

Foreign investors sold government securities worth a net 2.9 billion rupees ($18.26 million) in the week ended June 20, bringing the outflows so far this year to 25.5 billion rupees, central bank data showed.

Stock, bond and foreign exchange markets are closed on Wednesday for a public holiday. ($1 = 158.8000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal)

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