Rupee at 6-wk high after CB comments; shares ease

Friday, 22 April 2011 02:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s rupee gained to a six-week high on Thursday on exporter conversions and the central bank lowering the dollar trading band, a day after it said the currency is under pressure to strengthen further.

The rupee closed firmer at 110.05/10 a dollar from Wednesday’s close of 110.28/30 as the central bank lowered the dollar trading band by 10 cents to 109.50/110.20, dealers said.

The currency, which has appreciated 0.7 percent so far this year, will be under further upward pressure due to the expected post-war influx of dollars to the country’s service sector.

The island’s main share index fell 0.24 percent or 17.68 points weaker, its fourth straight fall, on retail profit-taking in oil palm and diversified shares in thin volume and turnover. It hit a record closing high on 14 February.

Rising inflation, which the central bank expects to hit near a 27-month high of 10 percent this month, has dampened investor sentiment as the bank signalled monetary tightening for the first time since November 2008.  Foreign investors sold a net 71.6 million rupees’ worth of shares, extending the net outflow to 1.01 billion rupees in the last five sessions. They have sold a net 7.62 billion in 2011, and a record 26.4 billion in 2010.

Turnover was 1.29 billion Sri Lanka rupees ($11.7 million), its lowest since 30 March, well below last year’s average of 2.4 billion and less than this year’s daily average of 2.98 billion.

The bourse is still Asia’s best performer in 2011 with a 12.4 percent gain, after bringing in the region’s top return, 96 percent, last year.

Traded volume was 40.9 million, against a five-day average of 62.2 million shares. The 30-day and 90-day average trading volumes were 54.7 million and 64.6 million, respectively. Last year’s daily average volume was 67.9 million.