April 18, 2019 / 12:37 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka rupee rises; stocks edge higher ahead of long weekend

COLOMBO, April 18 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee closed 0.34 percent firmer on Thursday helped by banks’ dollar sales, while stocks ended marginally higher for the fourth straight session in thin trade ahead of a long weekend. ** Many investors were on a holiday during the three-day week due to two long weekends. Both Monday and Friday in this week are public holidays. ** The currency ended at 173.95/174.25 to the dollar, higher than Wednesday’s close of 174.55/65, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. ** The island nation’s currency gained 0.3 percent this week, and 5.2 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 plunged into a 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 the week ended April 10, the second weekly fall in six weeks, the latest central bank data showed. ** The Colombo Stock Exchange index ended 0.05 percent firmer at 5,606.35. ** The benchmark stock index gained 0.4 percent in the week. However, it has declined 7.4 percent so far this year. ** Turnover came in at 200.3 million rupees ($1.15 million), nearly a third of this year’s daily average of 593.5 million rupees. Last year’s daily average came in at 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors bought a net 2.8 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday, 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 = 173.9500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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