Sri Lankan rupee steady; importer dollar demand offsets exporter sales

COLOMBO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – The Sri Lankan rupee was steady for a sixth straight session on Monday as dollar sales by foreigners who bought government securities were offset by demand for the U.S. currency from importers, dealers said.

The spot rupee was at 145.50/55 per dollar at 0648 GMT, unchanged from Friday’s close.

“It is a dull market and we saw some dollar sales by foreign investors to buy local bonds. That was more than enough to offset importer dollar demand,” a currency dealer said, asking not to be named.

“The central bank has been on the dollar buying side to keep the rupee steady.”

Central bank officials were not available for comment.

The spot rupee is usually managed by the central bank, and market participants use the forward market levels for guidance on the currency.

Since a $1.5 billion inflow from a dual-tenure sovereign bond issue, the central bank has largely not intervened in the currency market to defend the rupee.

Since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $1.5 billion, 36-month loan on June 4, net foreign inflow into government securities has jumped 28.5 percent to 295.7 billion rupees ($2.03 billion) through Aug. 17, the latest central bank data showed.

One-week rupee forwards were at 145.73/78 per dollar, little changed from Friday’s close of 145.74/77.

Sri Lankan shares edged down, with the benchmark Colombo stock index easing 0.08 percent down at 6,596.95 as of 0711 GMT. Turnover stood at 390.8 million rupees ($2.69 million)

($1 = 145.4500 Sri Lankan rupees)