Rupee weakens as refiners buy, stocks eyed

Rupee weakens as refiners buy, stocks eyed

Mumbai: The Indian rupee weakened in early trade on Tuesday as oil refiners stepped up their month-end dollar buying, but expectations of a stronger stock market opening may stem a sharp decline.

At 9:13am, the partially convertible rupee was at Rs48.65/65 per dollar, weaker than Monday’s close of Rs48.41/44 per dollar.

Foreign funds have dumped $13.3 billion worth of Indian shares so far in 2008, after buying a record $17.4 billion last year. But they’ve bought $365.6 million worth of shares so far in December.

Oil prices were above $40 a barrel on Tuesday. Refiners are the largest buyers of dollars in the domestic currency market and demand tends to peak at the end of each month when they make payments for their imports.

The dollar dropped against the euro and the Swiss franc on Tuesday, as tensions in the Middle East, which threaten oil supplies, continued to weigh.