The Indian rupee fell to a record low against the US dollar on Monday,forcing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to come to its defense,while bond yields surged, highlighting the vulnerability of a country dependent on capital inflows to fund its big current account deficit.
The local currency commenced the day’s trade at an all-time low level of 61.19 against the dollar at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market and hovered in a range of 61.19 and 60.80.
Forex dealers said there was some dollar selling by public sector banks at the behest of RBI.
The rupee’s slide to an all-time low of 61.21 is sparking speculation about potential measures from the Reserve Bank of India,including providing a special window for oil companies to buy dollars.
The central bank will meet officials from oil companies,the biggest buyers of dollars in domestic markets,later on Monday to discuss their foreign exchange needs,two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Meanwhile,Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram is due to travel to the United States from Monday in a previously scheduled trip to drum up foreign direct investment,particularly in the infrastructure sector.
The rupee,emerging Asia’s worst performer this year,is likely to remain weak after stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data on Friday cemented bets the Federal Reserve will wind down its quantitative easing (QE),sparking outflows from emerging markets.
At the same time,a spike in oil prices – with Brent crude futures hitting a more than three-month high on Monday – is aggravating concerns about India’s current account deficit.
“The QE tapering has had a larger impact on CAD currencies. India too has been bearing the brunt of the risk of continuing outflows by portfolio investors,” said Shubhada Rao,chief economist at Yes Bank in Mumbai.
The QE tapering will have a larger impact on currencies of countries with sizable current account deficits,said Shubhada Rao,chief economist at Yes Bank in Mumbai.
“India too has been bearing the brunt of the risk of continuing outflows by portfolio investors,” she said. “Weakening rupee,along with rising oil,is not good news for India. As such,rupee will come under continued pressure. We expect policymakers to take more administrative steps to bring some stability to the currency market.”
The rupee was trading at 61.06/07 at 0643 GMT,breaching the previous record low of 60.76 on June 26. Earlier on Monday,it hit an all-time low of 61.21. It had closed at 60.225/235 on Friday.
Three traders said the central bank likely started selling dollars when the rupee was trading at around 61.15 levels,while two other dealers said the RBI was spotted a little earlier at around 61.21 levels.
The Indian rupee has weakened 10 percent this year,the worst fall in emerging Asia,because of a current account deficit that hit a record 4.8 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year that ended in March.
Bonds fell to a two-month low as foreign investors have sold more than $7 billion in debt since May 22.
The 10-year yield rose as much as 13 basis points to 7.63 percent from its previous close.
The surge in yields led the Fixed Income Money Market and Derivatives Association of India to remove trading bands for the day,a measure it also adopted when the rupee was last plumbing record lows late last month.
The 5-year overnight indexed year surged 15 bps to 7.69 percent,while the 1-year rate was up 7 bps at 7.57 percent,further widening the gap between the two after both rates disinverted on Friday for the first time in two years.
Traders said among potential measures,the RBI could also curb speculative positions by imposing limits on intraday or overnight net open position limits.
Meanwhile,the government could review limits for foreign investment in sectors such as defence,or issue a sovereign bond to non-resident Indians,dealers said.