Sri Lanka rupee looks for direction, amid rate cut

April 22, 2009 (LBO) – The Sri Lanka rupee edged lower but recovered before hitting a psychological 120.00 level against the greenback, Wednesday with some exporters taking profits, dealers said. The rupee opened wide at 118.75/119.25 a day after the central bank talked up the rupee, weakening towards 119.65/120.00 and recovering to 119.00/119.10 levels later in the day.

“There is a psychological barrier at 120.00 rupees and some exporters are looking to book forward,” a dealer said.

“But recent rate cuts give them more holding power.”

Low interest rates allow exporters to borrow rupees at a lower cost and delay converting dollars. To keep rates down the central bank also has to ultimately ‘print’ more money and inject fresh liquidity to the market.

Sri Lanka cut the main signal rate by an aggressive 175bp to 13.00 percent in a bid to boost lending as private sector credit contracted 5.6 percent in February, the Central Bank said.

The so-called ‘penal’ reverse repo rate which sets the ceiling on Interbank rates has now become the main signal policy rate of the monetary authority.

The penal interest rate has been cut from a high of 19.00 percent from the beginning of the year.

Central Bank Governor said final touches were being put on a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which could be disbursed in under three weeks.

The central bank said a 500 million dollar long-term loan with Libya is also at an “advanced stage.”

In the government securities market a bond maturing on 01.04.12 which was trading at around 16.65 percent fell to 15.80/90 levels, with business done at 15.85, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.03.11 which traded around 16.60 yesterday fell to around 15.55/65 with business done at around 15.60.

Updated