The rupee ended a four-day winning streak on Monday, reversing early gains that saw it rise to a more than four-and-a-half month high, as dollar demand from local oil refiners and big companies offset a rise in local shares.
A report by rating agency Standard & Poor’s outlining the numerous hurdles faced by India in maintaining its stable rating outlook and the lingering Greek debt crisis weighed on the unit.
The rupee ended at 49.05/06 to the dollar after touching 48.60, its highest since September 21, and weaker than its 48.6850/6950 close on Friday.
“Any possibility of a rating downgrade hurts economic sentiment. So, the currency was bound to see some impact,” said A. Ajith Kumar, senior manager of forex trading at Federal Bank.
Asia’s third-largest economy’s rating outlook was being challenged by high inflation, weak fiscal position and slower economic growth, S&P said on Monday. It, however, said it was not likely to revise outlook on long-term rating in near future.
“On top of this, oil payment-related dollar buying was also seen and the euro weakened due to worries on the euro debt deal. Therefore, the next support level for rupee is seen around 49.20,” Kumar said.
Some traders said a pick-up in dollar buying from gold importers also dragged the rupee.
Gold demand in India, the world’s biggest buyer of the yellow metal, edged up as prices extended losses for a third straight session, spurring traders to stock up given the wedding season.
The euro fell on mounting investor concern that Greek coalition parties had yet to sign off on the terms of a new bailout worth 130 billion euros, keeping alive the risk of a messy default that could ensnare other countries such as Portugal.
Oil is India’s biggest import item and local oil refiners are the largest buyers of the dollar in the domestic currency market.
The Sensex ended up, bolstered by a surprisingly robust U.S. jobs data that added to investor confidence about a turnaround in the global economy.
The Reserve Bank of India marginally eased some restrictions on the limits on net open positions for forex trading. However, the move won’t have any impact on the rupee’s movement as the relaxation was nominal, dealers said.
One-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were at 49.35.
In the currency futures market, the most-traded near-month dollar-rupee contracts on the National Stock Exchange, the MCX-SX and the United Stock Exchange all ended around 49.27, on total volume of $5.47 billion.