Mumbai : The rupee ended almost flat at 68.96 per US dollar Monday as participants preferred to wait on the sidelines to see the outcome of RBI’s first-ever rupee-dollar swap auction.
The forex market sentiment revived towards the fag-end, offsetting early losses amid increased selling of the greenback by exporters, traders said.
At the Interbank Foreign Exchange market, the rupee opened on a weak note at 69.09 then fell further to 69.17 against the US dollar. The local unit, however, erased the initial gains and finished at Rs 68.96, down by just 1 paisa over its previous close.
On Friday, the rupee had ended lower by 12 paise at 68.95 against the American currency on rise in demand for the greenback from importers and sell-off in domestic equities.
The rupee-dollar swap auction announced by the RBI earlier in March will infuse Rs 35,000 crore into the system. The auction of USD 5 billion for a tenure of three years will be conducted on Tuesday.
“The currency, sovereign-debt and credit markets are in the waiting mode to see the result of this new swap auction. The move is largely being seen as one of RBI buying dollars to create domestic liquidity,” said V K Sharma, Head PCG and Capital Markets Strategy, HDFC Securities.
Forex traders said while heavy selling in domestic equities weighed on investor sentiment, easing crude prices restricted the fall.
The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, eased 0.10 per cent to 96.55.
Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, was trading 0.21 per cent lower at USD 66.89 per barrel.
Meanwhile, domestic equity indices spiralled lower for the second straight session Monday amid a global sell-off triggered by renewed fears of a recession.
The BSE Sensex tumbled 355.70 points to end at 37,808.91 while the wider NSE Nifty plunged 102.65 points to 11,354.25.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought equities worth a net Rs 150.40 crore Monday, provisional data showed.
“Ongoing flood of liquidity into both debt and equity coinciding with the stable dollar index has led to recent strength of INR,” said Rajesh Cheruvu, chief investment officer of WGC Wealth, adding that “rupee should be range-bound between 69-71 per US dollar in the near term.”
The Financial Benchmark India Private Ltd (FBIL) set the reference rate for the rupee/dollar at 68.9903 and for rupee/euro at 77.9735. The reference rate for rupee/British pound was fixed at 90.8731 and for rupee/100 Japanese yen at 62.76.