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Rupee Cracks Below 66-level in Free Fall, Plunges 32 Paise vs USD

This is the lowest closing level of the rupee since March 10, 2017, when it had settled at 66.60 against the US dollar.

PTI

Updated:April 20, 2018, 9:29 PM IST
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Rupee Cracks Below 66-level in Free Fall, Plunges 32 Paise vs USD
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Mumbai: The rupee on Friday crashed below the key 66 level to settle at a 13-month low of 66.12 against the US currency, hit by a resurgent dollar, firming crude prices and a more hawkish tone of the Reserve Bank.

Extending its slide for a fifth day, the domestic currency took a hit of 32 paise to close at more than one-year low as the RBI's surprised hawkish tone kept overall sentiment bearish.

This is the lowest closing level of the rupee since March 10, 2017, when it had settled at 66.60 against the US dollar.

"Indian rupee fell for a fifth session as RBI minutes revealed that RBI's tone is more hawkish than what markets had previously gauged. FII selling and firm oil adds to pressure on rupee, while US dollar is also not expected to yield much ahead of May's FOMC meet," Anand James, Chief Market Strategist at Geojit Financial Services said.

Headwinds in the form of widening in trade deficit due to surging crude prices accompanied by portfolio outflows amid unsupportive global factors have weighed on the local currency in the last few trading session.

Overall forex mood turned fragile following a probability of rate hike as early as June despite easing inflation, a currency dealer said.

The rupee has dropped by more than 1 per cent in April and by 3.52 per cent this year so far.

The RBI earlier this month outlined higher growth expectations for the new fiscal citing strong revival in investment activity and also lowered its inflation forecast. It though kept key policy rate unchanged for the fourth consecutive time since August.

Moreover, higher US yields largely supported the greenback. The benchmark US 10-year treasury yield topped 2.90 per cent and was eyeing the elusive 3 per cent level.

Meanwhile, crude prices stayed near three-year highs reached earlier this week, supported by continued Middle East tensions and signs of healthy US demand.

Brent crude was trading at USD 73.30 a barrel in early Asian trade.

But, expectations of capital inflows into the country on the back of strong macro fundamentals along with record foreign capital reserves would limit the currency volatility, a forex dealer said.

India's foreign exchange reserves rose to a life-time high of USD 424.864 billion at the first week of April, aided by increase in foreign currency assets, according to the RBI data.

Extending its bearish market stance, the rupee opened with a big gap-down at 66.06 from Thursday's close of 65.80 at the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market.

After trading within a very tight range for most part of the day, the local unit drifted sharply towards the fag-end trade to end at the day's lowest level of 66.12, revealing a steep loss of 32 paise, or 0.49 per cent.

For the week, the rupee depreciated sharply by 0.88 per cent against the dollar.

The RBI, meanwhile, fixed the reference rate for the dollar at 66.0167 and for the euro at 81.4580.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback's value against a basket of six major currencies, was up at 89.92.

In the cross currency trade, the rupee however bounced back against the pound sterling to finish at 92.98 from last close of 93.68 and also recovered modestly against the euro to settle at 81.39 as compared to 81.41 earlier.

It ended lower against the Japanese yen at 61.46 per yens from 61.27 yesterday.

In forward market today, premium for dollar witnessed a sharp spike due to paying pressure from corporates.

Both the benchmark six-month forward premium payable in August edged higher to 95-97 paise from 93-95 paise and the far-forward February 2019 contract rose to 225-227 paise from 217-219 paise previously.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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