April 17, 2019 / 12:20 PM / 9 days ago

Sri Lanka rupee edges higher; stocks rise for third session

COLOMBO, April 17 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee closed a tad firmer on Wednesday helped by banks’ dollar sales, while stocks ended marginally higher for the third straight day in thin trade. ** Many investors were on holiday in a three-day week due to two long weekends. Both Monday and Friday in this week are public holidays. ** The currency ended at 174.55/65 to the dollar, higher than Tuesday’s close of 174.60/75. The markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday in lieu of traditional new year that fell on Sunday. ** Traders expect lower trade in both currency and stock markets in the three-day week. ** The island nation’s currency gained 0.26 percent last week, and 4.8 percent so far this year, as exporters converted dollars amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January. ** Sri Lanka was plunged into political turmoil in October last year when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move was unconstitutional, and Wickremesinghe was reinstalled as premier. ** Investor sentiment took a big hit as a result of the 51-day political crisis, leading to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds from government securities. ** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018, and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia due to heavy foreign outflows. ** Foreign investors sold a net 2 billion rupees worth of government securities in t=(he week ended April 10, the second weekly fall in six weeks, the latest central bank data showed. ** The Colombo Stock Exchange index ended 0.2 percent firmer at 5,603.35. ** The benchmark stock index fell 0.6 percent last week, recording its first weekly fall in three. The index has declined 7.4 percent so far this year. ** Turnover came in at 188.8 million rupees ($1.08 million), less than a third of this year’s daily average of 599.1 million rupees. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors bought a net 46.4 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, but the market has seen a year-to-date net foreign outflow to 6 billion rupees worth of equities. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 174.5000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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