February 27, 2018 / 12:54 PM / 10 months ago

Sri Lankan rupee ends steady; dollar conversions by exporters offset importer demand

COLOMBO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee ended steady on Tuesday as dollar selling by exporters and banks offset importer demand for the U.S. currency, dealers said.

The rupee closed unchanged at 154.85/95 per dollar. It hit a record low of 155.90 on Feb. 14.

“There was no big change as exporter (dollar) conversions offset (importer) demand,” said a dealer.

The local currency has weakened 0.9 percent so far this year, after declining 2.5 percent last year and 3.9 percent in 2016.

It is expected to be pressured by continued importer demand for dollars, dealers said.

A gradual depreciation in the rupee and higher volatility this year are expected on account of debt repayments by the government, dealers added.

The government must repay an estimated 1.97 trillion rupees ($12.68 billion) in 2018 - a record high - including $2.9 billion of foreign loans and a total of $5.36 billion in interest.

Foreign investors sold government securities worth net 3.7 billion rupees in the week ended Feb. 21, central bank data showed. ($1 = 155.4000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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