Rupee dives 23 paise to 73.79 against US dollar

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Mumbai, Dec 21 (PTI) The rupee plunged by 23 paise to end at a two-week low of 73.79 against the US dollar on Monday following a massive selloff in domestic equities amid fears of a fast-spreading new coronavirus strain in the UK.

At the interbank forex market, the domestic unit opened lower at 73.74 against the greenback. It swung between a low of 73.81 and a high of 73.63 during the session. The Indian unit finally settled at 73.79, down 23 paise -- the lowest level seen since December 7.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.94 per cent to 90.80.

'Rupee traded weak near 73.70 compared to 73.55 previously on back of very weak sentiments in capital markets as money poured out due to extension of lockdown in parts of Eurozone, and rising COVID-19 numbers. Dollar index showed some signs of support near USD 90 once it broke below USD 90. This helped USDINR take support near 73.50 in last couple days,' Jateen Trivedi, Senior Research Analyst (Commodity & Currency) at LKP Securities, said.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE benchmark Sensex plunged 1,406.73 points to close at 45,553.96, and the broader NSE Nifty fell 432.15 points to 13,328.40.

'The new variant of the novel coronavirus in the UK spooked markets as we witnessed intense selling in pivotal throughout afternoon trade. While the street was bracing for a correction this week after a sharp up move, the sheer velocity of the fall across broader markets took the bulls by surprise as practically none of the key indices constituents were in the green today,' S Ranganathan, Head of Research at LKP Securities, said.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 5.20 per cent to USD 49.54 per barrel. PTI BAL MKJ MKJ