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Indian rupee hits new low despite central bank moves.

Summary: India's ailing rupee hit a new record low on Wednesday after the central bank's plans to inject 80 billion rupees into financial markets failed to calm investor jitters.

India's ailing rupee hit a new record low on Wednesday after the central bank's plans to inject 80 billion rupees into financial markets failed to calm investor jitters.

The rupee, the worst performing Asian currency this year, fell to 64.60 to the dollar in late afternoon trade, down from its previous all-time low of 64.13 reached on Tuesday.

"We are trying to grapple with what caused the fresh lows," said Shubhada Rao, chief economist with Yes Bank.

"There is a bit of nervousness before the Fed meeting," Rao said, referring to Wednesday's release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's July policy meeting.

The fall comes after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) late Tuesday announced it would inject 80 billion rupees ($1.26 billion) into the banking system by buying back long-term government bonds.

The move appears to be a partial reversal of a string of measures the central bank has taken since mid-July to tighten liquidity in an attempt to stop the rupee plummeting against the dollar.

The new move, which is expected to make more credit available and bring down borrowing costs for the government, sparked accusations from analysts of policy flip-flops.

Stocks fell 1.52 percent after jumping in early trade on news of the planned cash injection. Indian stocks have fallen nearly six percent in the past three days on concerns over the rupee and a faltering Indian economy.

Yields eased on 10-year benchmark bonds to 8.27 percent on Wednesday, after hitting a five-year-high of more than nine percent the day before.

Late on Tuesday, the RBI announced it would relax rules on mandatory bond holdings for banks, which would help protect them from large losses from the hardening of long-term yields.

"Flip-flops by policy makers continue," Rajeev Malik, senior economist with CLSA, said in an email to AFP.

"The latest moves by the RBI are aimed at cleaning up the unintended mess in the bond market from their convoluted and ineffective currency defence," he added.

The RBI's earlier moves aimed at stabilising the rupee had instead pushed up yields on 10-year benchmark bonds to a five-year high as investors demanded higher returns. They also raised borrowing costs as banks increased interest rates.

Param Sarma, chief executive with NSP Forex, said the overall mood of the markets was still bearish as they await Wednesday's publication of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes.

These were expected to give indications about a possible rollback of the Fed's massive stimulus programme.

Most emerging-market currencies have been hit by expectations the US will scale back its stimulus sooner than expected, causing funds to flow back to the United States as its economy recovers.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 21, 2013
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