May 13, 2019 / 1:17 PM / 13 days ago

Sri Lanka stocks, rupee extend falls in dull trade

COLOMBO, May 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares fell on Monday for an eight straight session, closing at their lowest in more than six-and-a-half years, and the rupee slipped for a third day in dull trade, as the Easter bombings drove off investors. ** Sri Lanka widened a curfew on Monday after attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses in the worst unrest since Easter bombings by Islamist militants and blocked Facebook and WhatsApp to stop people inciting violence. ** Sri Lanka’s economic growth is expected to slump to its lowest in nearly two decades this year, a Reuters poll showed. Tourism, foreign investment and overall business activity have all dropped after the bombings. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.38 percent weaker on Monday at 5,307.20, its lowest close since Sept. 3, 2012. ** Turnover was 179.5 million rupees ($1.02 million), lower than this year’s daily average of around 557.6 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors bought a net 20 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, but they have been net sellers of 4.4 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ** The rupee closed weaker on dollar demand from banks in dull trade. ** The rupee dropped 0.3 percent to close at 176.60/70 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 176.10/60, market sources said. ** Analysts expect the currency to weaken further as money flows out of stocks and government securities. ** The rupee gained 0.6 percent last week and is up 3.4 percent for the year. Exporters had converted dollars as investor confidence stabilised after a $1 billion sovereign bond was repaid in mid-January. ** The rupee dropped 16 percent in 2018 and was one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia. ** Foreign investors sold a net 10.8 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended May 8, extending net foreign outflow to 20.8 billion rupees so far this year, central bank data showed. ** Investor sentiment was damaged at the end of last year, when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move unconstitutional, but the political turmoil led to credit rating downgrades and an outflow of foreign funds.

** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 176.5000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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