Sri Lankan rupee edges down on importer dollar demand; stocks up

COLOMBO, Feb 2 (Reuters) – The Sri Lankan rupee traded marginally weaker on Thursday as importer dollar demand surpassed greenback sales by exporters, dealers said.

The central bank revised the spot rupee reference rate to a record-low of 150.50 from 150.25 on Tuesday.

“The pressure is there (on the rupee) to depreciate. It is also reflected from the central bank’s continuous pushing of reference rate weaker,” a currency dealer said, requesting anonymity.

“This means they do not want a stronger currency and want to allow gradual depreciation.”

Rupee forwards were active, with two-week forwards trading weaker at 151.05/10 per dollar at 0644 GMT, slightly weaker from Wednesday’s close of 151.00/10.

The rupee also faces depreciation pressure due to seasonal importer dollar demand, dealers said.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said it is a turbulent time and the government will navigate it “in a correct manner”.

“I wouldn’t want to speculate at all. But you’ll be surprised of what we will be doing,” Karunanayake told reporters in Colombo when asked about the government’s outlook on the rupee.

The rupee has been under pressure due to rising imports and net selling of government securities by foreign investors, while the central bank has said defending the currency was not sensible.

Foreign investors net sold 21.1 billion rupees ($140.6 million) worth of government securities in the three weeks to Jan. 25, according to latest central bank data.

Sri Lankan shares were up 0.22 percent at 6,143.73, as of 0648 GMT. Turnover stood at 952.9 million rupees ($6.33 million).