The rupee on Monday plunged by 29 paise, or 0.44 per cent, to close at a six-month low of 65.49 against the US currency on widening trade deficit concerns amid heightened geopolitical worries. Further, the US Treasury Department move to add India to its watch list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies also impacted the overall forex market sentiment. The Sensex, however, gained 113 points.
The rupee resumed on a bearish note at 65.30 per dollar from the previous close of 65.20 at the inter-bank foreign exchange market. After trading in a narrow range during the early part of the day, the home currency drifted sharply in mid-afternoon deals to hit a fresh intra-day low of 65.51 before concluding the day at 65.49, revealing a steep loss of 29 paise. This is the lowest closing since October 3, 2017, when it had settled at 65.50 against the dollar.
The Indian unit was the biggest loser among Asian currencies which suffered due to a strong US dollar after the strike on Syria by the US, the UK and France. The Chinese yuan and Singapore dollar dropped 0.1 per cent, the Philippine peso and Malaysia’s ringgit declined up to 0.2 per cent against the dollar following hopes that the strikes would not lead to a broader escalation in the conflict.
The twin shocks of country’s trade deficit hitting $ 13.69 billion and exports dipping after a gap of four months in March weighed on the rupee. Capital outflows too added pressure even as importers rushed to cover their unhedged positions.
Meanwhile, stock market continued its unabated rise for the eighth consecutive session on Monday in the longest winning run since November, with the Sensex gaining another 113 points at 34,305.43 as a slew of positive macro-economic data brought cheers amid sustained geopolitical concerns. Domestic bourses started the day on a sluggish note due to mixed cues from Asian markets in the wake of US-led allied forces’ attack on Syria, fuelling fresh geopolitical tensions. However, Indian markets recovered towards the fag-end as participants took comfort from encouraging inflation and industrial output numbers.
According to government data, wholesale inflation eased marginally to 2.47 per cent in March on cheaper food articles, especially pulses and vegetables. Reflecting further improvement in the economic situation, industrial production grew by a healthy 7.1 per cent in February while the key retail inflation slipped to a five-month low of 4.28 per cent in March, official data showed on Thursday. The broader NSE Nifty too struggled before ending well above the 10,500-mark. The 30-share Sensex, which cracked the 34,000-mark at the outset, hit a low of 33,899.34 on profit-booking in recent gainers amid sustained outflows by foreign funds. However, towards the middle of the session, revival of buying, spread over a broad front, helped wipe out initial losses and took the barometer to the day’s high of 34,341.46 before closing higher by 112.78 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 34,305.43.