Mumbai: The rupee fell on Tuesday to its lowest in more than a week after a rise in July core inflation tempered expectations for an interest rate cut, while a widening trade deficit highlighted the woes facing the local currency.

Core inflation was estimated to have risen 5.44% in July from 4.9% in June, which helped offset the impact from the unexpected fall in the Wholesale Price Index to a near three-year low.

Hopes for rate cuts that would revive an economy growing at its slowest in nearly a decade were also dented after Reserve Bank of India governor D. Subbarao on Monday warned inflation remained too high for comfort.

Subbarao also continued to prod the government to lower its borrowing, a week after finance minister P. Chidambaram called interest rates too high, which many investors interpreted as a hint to the central bank to cut rates.

“The rupee opened with some weakness following hawkish comments from the RBI governor overnight. Dollar bids from oil companies kept the rupee on a weak note in spite of better inflation numbers," said Vikas Babu Chittiprolu, a forex dealer with state-run Andhra Bank.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 55.65/66 per dollar as per the SBI closing rate versus its previous close of 55.34/35. It fell to an intraday low of 55.7850, its lowest since 3 August.

Indian financial markets are closed for a national holiday on Wednesday.

Analysts say the rupee is unlikely to experience a sustained rebound unless economic indicators point to a turnaround or the government announces major fiscal reforms.

The current account deficit remains a particular source of concern, with worries amplified on Tuesday after provisional data showed the trade deficit widened to $15.5 billion in July from $10.1 billion a month earlier.

Global risk factors will also be key, with the euro dipping on Tuesday after data showed the euro zone economy contracted by 0.2% during the second quarter while a key German economic survey came in worse than expected.

The one-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were trading at 55.93, while the three-month was at 56.60.

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 closed at around 55.8475 with the total traded volume at around $4 billion. Reuters

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