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Indian rupee hits its historic low due to dollar outflows and high importer demand

The Indian rupee declined to a lifetime low of 83.62 against the US dollar during the June 21 trading session, finally settling at 83.5975. This marked a significant drop from its previous close of 83.4550.

EPN Desk 22 June 2024 05:57

Representational Image

Representational Image

The Indian rupee hit an all-time low against the US dollar on June 21, reaching 83.62 during the latter part of the trading session.

This dramatic fall can be attributed to expected capital outflows and robust demand for the US dollar from local importers.

By the close of the day, the rupee slightly recovered but still remained at a historically low level of 83.5975, down from the previous session's close of 83.4550.

The backdrop to this development is multifaceted. One primary factor is the lack of intervention from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday.

Traditionally, the central bank has stepped in to curb excessive volatility and prevent significant depreciation of the rupee by selling dollars through state-run banks.

However, this customary intervention was conspicuously absent, leading to a further decline in the rupee’s value.

A foreign exchange trader at a state-run bank noted this absence as a critical factor in the currency's plunge.

Moreover, the rupee’s fall is not occurring in isolation. It is part of a broader trend influenced by a stronger US dollar and the weakening of other major currencies, notably the Chinese yuan.

The US dollar's strength has been buoyed by several factors, including robust economic data and expectations of further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

This has made the dollar more attractive to investors, leading to increased demand and a corresponding dip in emerging market currencies like the rupee.

The Indian economy, being heavily reliant on imports, particularly crude oil, has seen a surge in demand for dollars from importers.

This demand further exacerbates the pressure on the rupee. As local importers scramble to secure dollars to pay for their imports, the increased demand causes the rupee to weaken further against the dollar.

In addition to importers' demand, speculative trading also plays a role. Traders often respond to market cues and the perceived direction of currency movements, contributing to the volatility.

With the expectation of continued dollar strength and possible further rupee depreciation, speculative activities can intensify the currency's downward spiral.

The decline of the rupee has broader economic implications. A weaker rupee makes imports more expensive, contributing to inflationary pressures within the economy.

Given that India imports an important portion of its energy needs, the costlier crude oil imports can lead to higher fuel prices, which in turn can increase transportation and production costs across various sectors.

On the flip side, a weaker rupee can boost exports by making Indian goods cheaper and more competitive in the global market.

However, this potential benefit is often offset by the higher cost of imported raw materials needed for production, thus squeezing profit margins for exporters.

The RBI's stance and future actions will be closely watched by market participants. While the central bank’s recent absence from the market suggests a possible shift in strategy, it may also indicate a calculated move to allow the rupee to find its equilibrium in the face of global pressures.

The RBI has traditionally maintained that it does not target a specific exchange rate but intervenes to curb excessive volatility. Whether the recent decline will prompt renewed intervention remains to be seen.

In the broader context, the rupee’s depreciation reflects underlying economic challenges and global economic trends.

The interplay between local economic policies, global market dynamics, and speculative activities creates a complex environment for currency valuation.

As the global economy navigates uncertainties, including geopolitical tensions and shifting trade policies, currencies like the rupee are likely to remain under pressure.

The rupee's fall to a record low underscores the vulnerabilities and interconnectedness of the Indian economy with global financial markets.

The absence of RBI intervention, strong demand for dollars from importers, and a broadly stronger US dollar have all contributed to this historic depreciation.

Moving forward, the Indian economy must brace for potential inflationary impacts while looking for ways to stabilize its currency amidst ongoing global economic shifts.

The coming weeks and months will be crucial in determining whether the rupee can recover or if it will continue to face downward pressure in the volatile landscape of international finance.


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