COLOMBO -- Two weeks ago, Sri Lanka's share index hit 11,000 for the first time, capping a busy trading day at the Colombo Stock Exchange. But outside on the capital's streets, thousands marched in protest against the country's spiraling cost of living amid shortages of gas, sugar, milk powder and other essentials.
Sri Lanka's foreign exchange reserves are running desperately low, sinking to $2.27 billion as of Oct. 31 and forcing the government to limit imports and shut the country's only oil refinery. The three major global rating agencies have signaled concern the government could default on its international debts. The Sri Lankan rupee has reached all-time lows, trading around 202 to the dollar on Friday.