March 5, 2018 / 11:54 AM / 15 days ago

Sri Lankan rupee ends firmer as exporters sell dollar

COLOMBO, March 5 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee ended firmer on Monday as dollar selling by exporters and banks outpaced demand for the greenback from importers, dealers said.

The rupee closed at 154.95/155.00 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 155.15/25.

The rupee hit a record low of 155.90 per dollar on Feb. 14.

“There were some inflows today after the weekend and there was not much of demand pressure also,” said a dealer.

The local currency has weakened one percent so far this year, after declining 2.5 percent last year and 3.9 percent in 2016.

It is expected to be pressured by continued importer demand for dollars ahead of the traditional New Year in April, dealers said.

Gradual depreciation in the rupee and higher volatility this year are expected on account of debt repayments by the government, dealers added.

The government must repay an estimated 1.97 trillion rupees ($12.68 billion) in 2018 - a record high - including $2.9 billion of foreign loans and a total of $5.36 billion in interest.

Foreign investors sold government securities worth a net 3.2 billion rupees in the week ended Feb. 28, central bank data showed.

$1 = 155.4000 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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