COLOMBO May 22 The Sri Lankan rupee ended
slightly higher on Monday as a foreign and a local bank sold
dollars, offsetting importer dollar demand, dealers said.
The rupee currency was under pressure on the demand from
importers and was seen easing further after the central bank
said it would buy dollars directly from the market to boost
The central bank is targeting $1.2 billion in direct market
purchases of dollars to boost the island nation's reserves this
year, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, the monetary authority's chief,
said on Thursday.
A currency dealer said the market was awaiting policies from
the new finance minister, Mangala Samaraweera, after President
Maithripala Sirisena switched the finance and foreign ministers
in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday in a bid to restore confidence
in the administration's handling of the economy.
"Everybody is awaiting for the direction from the new
finance minister. We don't know whether he will push through the
reforms of the former minister or he will have his own," the
The new appointment came after Sri Lanka missed its
December-end reserves target agreed with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $1.5 billion, 36-month loan.
Rupee forwards were active, with spot-next forwards
ended at 152.85/95 per dollar, compared with Friday's close of
Two-week forwards ended at 153.20/35, compared with the
previous session's close of 153.30/40.
Dealers said the rupee ended firmer due to dollar sales by a
foreign bank and a state bank and it was not clear whether the
state banks sold dollars on behalf the central bank.
Central bank officials were not immediately available for
The spot rupee did not trade on Monday.
The central bank fixed the spot rupee reference rate at
152.50 on May 5.
Coomaraswamy said the central bank has purchased around $400
million directly from the market so far this year.
The central bank has allowed the currency to gradually
depreciate since mid-December, revising its spot reference rate
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas