Rupee closes weaker against US dollar at 67.94


Mumbai: The Indian rupee on Monday weakened against the US dollar as local equity markets closed over 300 points lower amid caution ahead of key gross domestic product (GDP) data due after 5.30pm.

The rupee closed at 67.94 a dollar, down 0.42% from its previous close of 67.65. The local currency opened at 67.87 a dollar and touched a low of 67.97.

India’s GDP data for the third quarter (October-December) of 2015-16, to be released on Monday, will be a crucial input into the budget to be presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley on 29 February.

According to Bloomberg estimates, GVA (gross value added) will be at 7.1% from 7.4% in the September quarter, while GDP will be at 7.1% from 7.4% a quarter ago.

India’s benchmark equity index, BSE Sensex, closed at 24,287.42 points, down 1.34%, or 329.55 points. So far this year, the Sensex has lost over 7%.

Year-to-date, the rupee has weakened 2.64%, the worst currency in Asia, while foreign portfolio investors sold $1.72 billion from local equities and bought $468.30 million in debt.

The yield on India’s current 10-year benchmark bond closed at 7.839% compared with its Friday’s close of 7.821%. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency’s strength against major currencies, was trading at 97.176, up 0.14% from its previous close of 97.031.

Many Asian markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

US non-farm payrolls increased by just 151,000 jobs last month, falling well short of expectations for a rise of 190,000. But the unemployment rate fell to 4.9%, the lowest since February 2008, and wages rose, indicating some signs of underlying strength in the labour market despite the weak headline figure, Reuters reported.

Data released over the weekend showed China’s foreign reserves fell for a third straight month in January, as the central bank dumped dollars to defend the yuan and prevent an increase in capital outflows, the report added