December 26, 2018 / 12:16 PM / 10 months ago

Sri Lankan rupee hits record low on foreign outflows

COLOMBO, Dec 26 (Reuters) - ** The Sri Lankan rupee fell to a record low on Wednesday due to continued outflows of foreign funds mainly from government bonds as political uncertainty dented investor sentiment.

** The rupee hit an all-time low of 181.85 to the dollar in early trade, surpassing its previous record of 181.67 marked in the previous session. It has weakened about 4.8 percent since Sri Lanka’s political crisis began on Oct. 26, and lost 18.4 percent so far this year. ** The rupee ended at 181.80/182.00 per dollar, compared with 181.50/70 in the previous session.

** President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a 30-member cabinet last week after he was forced to reinstate Ranil Wickremeinghe as prime minister, 51 days after he was sacked.

** The political crisis was expected to ease, though uneasy relations between the two men could cause fiscal problems, analysts have said. Parliament approved 1.77 trillion rupees ($9.39 billion) to meet four months of expenditures and avert a government shutdown from Jan. 1. ** The Colombo stock index ended 0.09 percent weaker at 6,019.62 on Wednesday. Turnover was 670.9 million rupees, below this year’s daily average of 840 million rupees.

** Foreigners were net buyers of 344.7 million rupees ($1.9 million) of stocks on Wednesday. They have been net sellers of 13.3 billion rupees since the political crisis began. The bond market saw outflows of about 56.7 billion rupees between Oct. 25 and Dec. 19, central bank data showed. ** Five-year government bond yields have risen 25 basis points since the political crisis began. ** Credit agencies Fitch and S&P downgraded Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating in early December, citing refinancing risks and an uncertain policy outlook.

** For a report on global markets, click here. ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 181.4000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; editing by John Stonestreet)

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