COLOMBO, March 29 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee closed higher on Thursday as dollar selling by exporters late in the day and inward remittances surpassed demand for the U.S. currency by importer earlier, dealers said.
The rupee, which traded at 156.00/10 per dollar earlier in the session, closed at 155.50/70 per dollar, compared with Wednesday’s close of 155.60/70.
“There was demand from foreign banks in the morning. But remittances and exporter dollar conversions came (during the) latter part of the day,” said a currency dealer.
The rupee gained 0.4 percent this week. The markets will be closed for a holiday on Friday. Normal trading will resume on Monday.
Dealers expect pressure on the currency to ease with more inward remittances ahead of the traditional New Year in mid-April.
The rupee touched an all-time low of 156.20 per dollar on March 16. The rupee has weakened 1.43 percent so far this year after declining 2.5 percent last year and 3.9 percent in 2016.
A gradual depreciation in the rupee and higher volatility are expected this year on account of debt repayments by the government, dealers have said.
The International Monetary Fund said on March 9 that Sri Lanka’s economy remained vulnerable to adverse shocks due to its large public debt and low external buffers.
The government must repay an estimated 1.97 trillion rupees ($12.68 billion) in 2018 - a record - including $2.9 billion of foreign loans and a total of $5.36 billion in interest.
Foreign investors sold government securities worth a net 211.7 million rupees in the week ended March 21, central bank data showed. ($1 = 155.6000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)