India rupee hits record low amid sustained rise in global crude

·2-min read
A customer hands Indian currency notes to an attendant at a fuel station in Mumbai

By Swati Bhat

MUMBAI (Reuters) -The Indian rupee hit a record low against the U.S. dollar on Thursday as the relentless surge in global crude oil prices raised concerns about a sustained rise in imported inflation, while choppy domestic shares also hurt.

The partially convertible rupee was trading at 77.79/80 per dollar after touching a record low of 77.81. The previous low of 77.7975 was touched on May 17.

"There is possibly some bit of dollar selling by the central bank that is there, but they can only prevent day to day volatility, the direction for the rupee is clearly lower," a senior trader at a foreign bank said.

The central bank has time and again reiterated that it only intervenes to arrest extreme volatility in the currency but does not target any specific levels.

Traders said the rupee could eventually weaken towards 79/dollar levels by end of fiscal year 2022/23 but the fall could be accelerated by firm crude oil prices.

Oil prices held firm near 13-week highs on Thursday after China reported stronger-than-expected exports in May, although new Shanghai lockdown restrictions capped gains.

India imports nearly 85% of its oil requirements and high crude tends to push up domestic inflation while also widening the country's trade and current account deficits.

Indian shares extended losses to a fifth session as investors worried that aggressive policy tightening by central banks could stifle global economic growth. [.BO]

RBI raised its key repo rate by 50 basis points on Wednesday.

Foreign funds have sold stocks worth more than $23 billion so far in 2022 while they are net sellers of $2.1 billion in debt.

Bearish bets on Asian currencies eased on signs that China's economic pain may abate with the relaxation of COVID-19 curbs, but analysts were still wary of future lockdowns and the direction of U.S. monetary policy, a Reuters poll last week showed.

"Further depreciation in the rupee will be seen if levels around 77.80 start to be breached consistently. This will open targets of 78.25 for the rupee," currency analysts at Emkay Global wrote in a note.

(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Mark Heinrich)

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