Rupee ends flat wedged between higher Asia FX, local dollar demand

The Indian rupee closed little changed on Thursday, sidestepping strength in its Asian peers as local dollar demand ate into the currency’s early gains that came after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept its policy rates and dot plot for 2024 unchanged.

The rupee closed at 83.1475 against the U.S. dollar, barely changed from its close of 83.1575 in the previous session.

While the currency had risen to an intraday high of 83.0475 earlier in the session, it consequently shed those gains.

Dollar demand from corporates and debt repayment outflows pressured the rupee on Thursday, a foreign exchange trader at a state-run bank said.

Most Asian currencies rose, with the Korean won up 1.3% and leading gains, while the dollar index pared some of its losses from Wednesday and was last quoted 0.2% higher at 103.43.

The Fed left rates unchanged on Wednesday and maintained its forecast for three interest rate cuts over 2024.

The upside surprises on U.S. inflation data in January and February, “haven’t really changed the overall story, which is that of inflation moving down gradually, on a somewhat bumpy road,” Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

Odds of a June rate cut have risen to about 74% after the Fed’s policy decision, up from 59% a week earlier, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

Meanwhile, dollar-rupee forward premiums rose, with the 1-year implied yield up 2 bps to 1.63%, aided by a fall in U.S. bond yields.

The rupee appears to have “shifted to a slightly weaker range,” but it’s unlikely to fall below 83.30 in the near term, Dilip Parmar, a foreign exchange research analyst at HDFC Securities said.

Investors now await the release of U.S. jobless claims data due later in the day.

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