Indian rupee on Monday hit a near three-week low against the US dollar as risk appetite was hit after China reported an increase in fatalities and infections from the new coronavirus.


The rupee closed at 71.44 a dollar, down 0.15% from Friday's close of 71.33. The Indian unit had opened at 71.50 and touched a low of 71.51 -- a level last seen on 8 January.


China's National Health Commission said coronavirus infections could continue to rise. More than 76 people have died in China and 2,000 globally infected by the novel coronavirus.


Other emerging market currencies were also lower today. South Korean won was down 0.79%, China Offshore 0.74% and Thai Baht 0.45%. The safe-haven Japanese yen rose 0.28%.


Year to date, the Indian rupee has lost 0.09%, while foreign investors have bought nearly $2.23 billion in Indian equities and sold $1.44 billion in debt.


Yield on the 10-year government bond was at 6.556% compared with its previous close of 6.582%. Benchmark equity index Sensex fell 1.10% or 458.07 points to close at 41155.12 points. Year to date, the index lost 0.24%.

Investors have turned their focus on the upcoming Union Budget to be presented on 1 February for cues on fiscal deficit and government borrowing targets.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency’s strength against a basket of major currencies, was at 97.889, up 0.04% from its previous close of 97.853.

(Bloomberg contributed this story)

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