Rupee trades marginally lower at 66.80 against US dollar


Mumbai: The Indian rupee on Monday weakened marginally against the US dollar, tracking losses in its Asian peers and ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) bi-monthly policy on Tuesday.

The rupee opened at 66.83 a dollar. At 9.10am, the home currency was trading at 66.80 a dollar, down 0.03% from its previous close of 66.78.

Asian currencies weakened against the dollar, following the bigger-than-estimated increase in US payrolls data on Friday. The stronger US employment data revives talk of the US Federal Reserve rate hike this year and supports the dollar broadly.

Malaysian ringgit was down 0.43%, Japanese yen 0.26%, South Korean won 0.25%, Taiwan dollar 0.21%, Indonesian rupiah 0.16%, Singapore dollar 0.07%, China offshore 0.05% and Philippines peso fell 0.05%. However, Thai baht was up 0.3%.

Traders are cautious ahead of the RBI’s bi-monthly policy on 9 August. Outgoing RBI governor Raghuram Rajan will likely choose to leave policy rates unchanged on Tuesday, leaving it to his successor to decide on future rate cuts.

Out of 10 economists and bankers surveyed by Mint, nine expect RBI to keep the repo rate—the rate at which commercial banks borrow from the central bank—unchanged at 6.5% on Tuesday. The reverse repo rate would stay at 6% and the cash reserve ratio—the portion of deposits that banks must hold with RBI—may also stay steady at 4%, Mint reported.

India’s benchmark Sensex index rose 0.25% or 71.36 points to 28,149.71. So far this year, it gained 7.5%.

So far this year, the rupee is down 1%, while foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have bought $4.96 billion in equity and sold $1.07 billion in debt markets.

Meanwhile, India’s 10-year bond yield was at 7.167%, as compared with its Friday’s close of 7.168%.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency’s strength against major currencies, was trading at 96.219, up 0.02% from its previous close of 96.194.

The US economy added 255,000 jobs in July, well above the expected 180,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9%.

China’s July exports remained sluggish in dollar terms, while trade surplus widened. Its July trade balance rose to $52.3 billion versus an estimated $47.3 billion and the previous figure of $48.1 billion; exports were -4.4% year-on-year against an estimated -3.5% and the previous figure of -4.8%; imports were -12.5% year-on-year compared to estimated -7% and previous figure of -8.4%, according