Rupee flat against buoyant dollar; US jobs data in focus

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The rupee managed to recoup all its early losses and ended nearly flat at 66.68 against the strong US dollar in an extremely thin and lethargic trade.

Forex market sentiment remained cautious as many currency traders preferred to stay on the sidelines and avoided taking any long positions ahead of the US jobs report.

A series of stronger US macro data flows has increased the probability of a US Federal Reserve rate hike this year.

Robust capital flows into equities and debt largely cushioned the fall despite highly bullish dollar sentiment overseas, a forex trader said.

The home currency opened substantially weak at 66.75 against its overnight closing value of 66.69 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market on good demand for the greenback from importers and remained immense pressure throughout the day.

After hitting an intra-day low of 66.87, the domestic currency gradually wiped out its early losses to touch a fresh high of 66.67 before settling at 66.68, revealing a mere 1 paisa gain.

It had depreciated by 18 paise yesterday.

In worldwide trade, a strong dollar put pressure on all major and most emerging market currencies as investors counted down to the September payrolls report, which is expected to influence the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates.

The British pound suffered a sudden fall of more than 6 per cent against the US dollar in early Asian trade before recovering most of its losses amid fading expectations of tapering from ECB due to stubbornly low inflation.

The pound has been under pressure for most of this week as anxiety grows that Britain will opt for a “hard” exit from the European Union.

The dollar index, which measures its broader strength against a basket of currencies, rose 0.37 per cent to 96.98.

The RBI today fixed the reference rate for the dollar at 66.7875 and euro at 74.2744.

In cross-currency trades, the rupee shot up against the pound sterling to finish at 82.23 from 84.50 and also climbed against the euro to settle at 74.27 from 74.61.

However, it fell back marginally against the Japanese yen to close at 64.36 as compared to 64.33 per 100 yens yesterday.

In the forward market, premium for dollar continued to trade sluggish owing to sustained receiving by exporters.

The benchmark six-month premium for March softened to 171-172 paise from 171-173 paise and the forward-September 2017 contract also moved down to 348.5-349.5 paise as against 349-351 paise yesterday.

Domestic bourses succumbed to profit-taking for the third straight day ahead of the much awaited US jobs report due later in the day amid weak Asian sentiment.

The benchmark BSE Sensex dropped 45.07 points to end at 28,061.14, while broader Nifty moved down 11.95 points to 8,697.60.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 353.80 crore yesterday, showed provisional data.

Meanwhile, crude prices continued its surging momentum for the seventh consecutive day to trade above the key USD 50 a barrel – its highest level in four months ahead of another informal meeting amongst Saudi, Iran, Iraq and Russia at an energy conference in Istanbul next week.