March 28, 2018 / 11:36 AM / a year ago

Sri Lankan rupee firms on exporter dollar sales

COLOMBO, March 28 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee closed 0.26 percent stronger on Wednesday as exporter dollar sales and inward remittances surpassed importer demand for the U.S. currency, dealers said.

The rupee closed at 155.60/70 per dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 156.00/10.

“We saw (dollar) conversation’s for salaries and to pay bonuses ahead of the festival, and the seasonal importer demand has also reduced. There was some general import demand, but the remittances were high,” said a currency dealer.

The rupee is expected to remain under pressure on continued importer demand for dollar ahead of the traditional New Year in mid-April, dealers said.

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 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 = 155.9500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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