April 26, 2019 / 3:17 PM / in 25 days

Sri Lanka rupee falls for third session on fears after attacks

COLOMBO, April 26 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee closed 0.2 percent weaker on Friday as worries about more bomb attacks after the Easter Sunday attacks weighed, while stocks edged up for the third straight session after hitting a more than six-year low early in the week. ** Sri Lankan police are trying to track down 140 people believed linked to Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday suicide bombings of churches and hotels that killed 253 people, President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday. ** The currency ended at 175.30/80 to a dollar, 0.2 percent weaker than Thursday’s close of 175.00/50, Refinitiv data showed. ** Analysts fear it could weaken further due to outflows from stocks and government securities. ** Dollar-denominated bonds issued by Sri Lanka’s government tumbled across the curve on Thursday following a fresh bomb scare. ** The island’s currency lost 0.8 percent this week, but is 4.2 percent up so far this year, as exporters converted dollars amid stabilising investor confidence after the country repaid a $1 billion sovereign bond in mid-January. ** 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 268.2 million rupees worth of government securities in the week ended April 24, the first net buying in four weeks, but they have sold a net 6.6 billion rupees worth of securities so far this year, the latest central bank data showed. ** The benchmark stock index ended 0.26 percent up on Friday at 5,437.06, further moving away from its lowest close since Dec. 7, 2012 hit on Tuesday. On Tuesday, it suffered its worst percentage fall since Feb. 14, 2012. The exchange was closed on Monday following Sunday’s attacks. ** Turnover came in at 705.5 million rupees ($4.03 million), more than this year’s daily average of 608.9 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees. ** Foreign investors sold a net 4.5 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the net selling so far this year to 4.4 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ** The latest instability follows Sri Lanka’s plunge into political turmoil in October last year, when President Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and then dissolved parliament. A court later ruled the move 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. ** For a report on global markets, click ** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 175.2000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez Editing by Frances Kerry)

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