COLOMBO, March 23 The Sri Lankan rupee ended
slightly weaker in thin trade on Thursday as dollar demand from
importers surpassed selling of the U.S. currency by exporters,
with investors waiting for the central bank's decision on
Sri Lanka's central bank could raise its key policy rates in
the coming months if it skips a chance to tighten at its second
monetary policy review of the year, a Reuters poll showed, two
weeks after the International Monetary Fund called for further
The policy announcement is due on Friday at 0200 GMT.
Rupee forwards were active, with two-week forwards
ending at 152.45/55 per dollar, compared with Wednesday's close
"The market is waiting for direction from the policy
announcement," said a currency dealer, asking not to be named.
"A state bank was buying dollars throughout the day to cover
their bills - may be an oil bill; that weighed on the market."
Dealers said the central bank could raise rates to prop up
the rupee as rising imports and outflows due to rupee bond sales
by foreign investors put pressure the currency.
The central bank raised the spot rupee reference rate by 25
cents to 151.60 on Monday. Dealers said the banking regulator
had been preventing spot rupee trades below 151.35 per
dollar since March 8.
Central bank officials were not available for comment.
Foreign investors net sold government securities worth 1.41
billion rupees ($9.3 million) in the week ended March 15, after
two weeks of net inflows. They have net sold 63.3 billion rupees
of such instruments so far this year.
($1 = 151.5000 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju