COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan rupee traded slightly weaker on Thursday as importer demand for dollars surpassed greenback sales by exporters, while expectations that imports would increase also weighed on the local currency, dealers said. The spot rupee was traded at 153.68/73 per dollar at 0731 GMT, weaker from Wednesday’s close of 153.63/73. “The pressure is still there for the rupee to weaken with the import demand. But today not much of volumes were traded,” said a currency dealer, requesting anonymity. “There was usual importer dollar demand.” The spot rupee resumed trading on June 19 for the first time since May 5, when the central bank had fixed its reference rate at 152.50. Dealers said they expected seasonal demand for dollars to pick up from August.
The rupee has been under pressure since early this year after the central bank stopped defending the currency at a time when the island nation faces a balance of payments crisis. The central bank is also compelled to buy dollars from the market to meet the reserve target set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a $1.5 billion, three-year loan programme. Sri Lankan shares were up 0.19 percent at 6,722.59, as of 0732 GMT. Turnover stood at 509.2 million rupees ($3.31 million).