October 5, 2018 / 12:33 PM / a month ago

Sri Lanka rupee hits record low on importer dollar demand; stocks gain further

COLOMBO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - ** The Sri Lankan rupee hit a record low for a third straight session on Friday due to dollar demand from importers and foreign banks amid outflows from government securities, while stocks rose for a third consecutive session to a more than one-week closing high.

** The rupee fell to its all-time low of 170.40 per dollar, surpassing the previous low of 170.10 hit on Thursday, on importer demand for the greenback and foreign selling in government securities, market sources said. ** The central bank surprised financial markets on Tuesday by leaving its key policy rates unchanged, despite heavy pressure on the rupee and foreign outflows from government securities. ** The central bank said on Tuesday it purchased 4 million dollars from the market in the previous day, but it has sold a net 184 million dollars to the market so far this year to defend the currency.

** The rupee ended at 170.25/30 per dollar, compared with the previous close of 170.05/20.

** The rupee has weakened 0.5 percent so far this month after a 4.7 percent drop in September against the dollar. It has declined 10.69 percent so far this year.

** The Colombo stock index ended 0.83 percent firmer at 5,883.77, its highest close since Sept. 26 and further moving away from its lowest close since Dec. 13, 2013 hit on Tuesday. It fell 3.6 percent last month and is down 8.2 percent so far this year.

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** Data from the central bank showed foreign investors sold government securities worth a net 1.8 billion rupees ($10.58 million) in the week ended Oct. 3. Sri Lanka has seen a net outflow of 74.3 billion rupees in securities so far this year.

** Stock market turnover was 350.6 million rupees ($2.06 million) on Friday, less than half of this year’s daily average of 779.7 million rupees.

** Foreign investors sold a net 30.2 million rupees worth of shares on Friday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 6.1 billion rupees worth of equities. ** Shares in Lanka ORIX Leasing Company Plc rose 5.5 percent, while Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Plc closed 2.4 percent firmer. ($1 = 170.2000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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