November 19, 2018 / 12:20 PM / 21 days ago

Sri Lanka rupee hits record low amid continued political uncertainty

COLOMBO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - ** The Sri Lankan rupee fell to an all-time low of 177.35 per dollar on Monday, as political uncertainty outweighed the positive impact of a policy rate hike, sources said.

** Stocks closed weaker for the second straight session due to political uncertainty and the policy rate hike.

** The political uncertainty remained the main concern of investors a day after President Maithripala Sirisena asked an all-party meeting to hold a third vote on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa after rejecting the first two motions passed by a majority in the parliament, deepening the country’s political crisis.

** The central bank on Wednesday unexpectedly raised its key policy rates, in a move aimed at defending a faltering rupee as foreign capital outflows pick up amid an escalating political crisis and rising U.S. interest rates.

** The rupee hit a fresh low of 177.35 per dollar on Monday, surpassing its previous low of 176.80 hit on Thursday.

** The currency ended at 177.30/50 per dollar on Monday, compared with 176.60/80 at previous close. It has weakened more than 2.4 percent since the political crisis began on Oct. 26 and more than 15.4 percent so far this year.

** Foreigners sold a net 147.1 million rupees worth of stocks on Monday. They have offloaded equities worth 7.8 billion rupees since the political crisis started on Oct. 26.

** The bond market saw outflows of about 22.9 billion rupees between Oct. 25 and Nov. 7, central bank data showed. This year, there have been 17.3 billion rupees of outflows from stocks and 112.8 billion rupees from government securities, bourse and central bank data showed.

** The Colombo stock index fell 0.13 percent to 5,947.90 on Monday. It declined 0.39 percent last week after falling 1.9 percent in the previous week. Heavy retail investor buying had lifted it 4.5 percent in the week before. It has slipped 6.5 percent so far this year.

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** Stock market turnover was 299.6 million rupees ($1.70 million) on Monday, well below this year’s daily average of 838.1 million rupees. ($1 = 176.7000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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