Rupee treads water; Fed speech eyed

Rupee treads water; Fed speech eyed

Mumbai: The rupee sat tight in thin trade on Friday as flows broadly matched and persistent worries over the global economy kept traders were reluctant to enter market fray before US Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s speech due later in the day.

By 10:44am, the partially convertible rupee was 46.06/07 to a dollar, little changed from Thursday’s close of 46.04/05, after having moved in range of 46.02-46.13 so far in trade.

“It is a very quiet market out there. Bernanke’s speech is the focus of the day. So we could see the rupee in a 45.95-46.15 band through the day," said a senior dealer with a private sector bank.

Market players expect steps to be announced by Bernanke in a speech set for 7:30pm, at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to help achieve lift-off for an economy that is stuck on the runway, but he may only outline gradualist moves.

Movement in the euro before Bernanke’s speech will also be eyed for cues on the rupee, traders said.

The euro was at $1.4408 from $1.4438 at the end of local forex trade on Thursday, while the index of the dollar against six major currencies was down 0.25% at 74.114 points, but higher from 73.961 points previously.

Traders said with choppy local shares offering little direction for the rupee, the quantum of dollar demand from domestic oil companies and gold importers could affect the rupee.

India is the world’s biggest bullion consumer and demand for the yellow metal is expected to rise as the festival season begins from September.

Oil is India’s biggest import item and domestic oil refiners are the largest buyers of dollars in the forex market.

The one-month onshore forward premium was at 9.50 points from 9 points on Thursday, the three-month was at 40.50 points from 37 points and the one-year stood at 139 points, from 132.75.

The one-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were quoted at 46.21, weaker than the onshore spot rate.

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 were all at 46.0750. The total volume was at $2.51 billion.