Rupee settles flat at 72.96 against US dollar; RBI policy in focus

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Mumbai, Feb 4 (PTI) The Indian rupee ended unchanged at 72.96 against the US dollar on Thursday in range-bound trade ahead of RBI's monetary policy decision.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is likely to maintain status quo on rates on Friday but is widely expected to communicate its stance on liquidity management, analysts said.

At the interbank forex market, the rupee opened at 72.92 against the greenback and witnessed an intra-day high of 72.90 and a low of 72.96.

It finally ended at 72.96 against the American currency, unchanged from its previous close.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, advanced 0.28 per cent to 91.42.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE Sensex ended 358.54 points or 0.71 per cent higher at its all-time peak of 50,614.29. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty climbed 105.70 points or 0.71 per cent to a record 14,895.65.

Foreign institutional investors remained net buyers in the capital market, purchasing shares worth Rs 2,520.92 crore on Wednesday, according to exchange data.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.55 per cent to USD 58.78 per barrel.

'The Indian rupee ended flat against the US currency on Thursday ahead of the MPC decision on Friday,' said Sriram Iyer, Senior Research Analyst at Reliance Securities.

Asian currencies were weak this Thursday, while the US dollar strengthened and kept the appreciation bias limited for the local unit, Iyer noted.

According to Devarsh Vakil, Deputy Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities, the rupee marked time and traded near flat line for the session even after a stronger rally in the dollar. The greenback has continued to strengthen modestly against major trading partners.

'There some nervousness ahead of important BoE meeting which is likely to prove important for the near-term performance for Euro,' Vakil said.

All eyes will be on the RBI policy meet which might give direction for the rupee, he added. 'We expect it to find support near the level of 72.75, while it may find resistance near 73.4,' he noted.

'Higher crude prices also played some part as the prices have witnessed a surge of more than 5 per cent in past week,' said Jateen Trivedi, Senior Research Analyst at LKP Securities.

According to the Commodity and Currency Canvas report by Motilal Oswal Financial Services, participants' focus 'will now be on the RBI policy statement; expectation is that the central bank could keep rates on hold, but importantly will be keeping an eye on the announcement that will be made by the governor.' 'Inflation has started to ease following lower food prices and what stance the RBI has on the inflation going forward could trigger volatility for the currency,' it added. PTI DRR ABM ABM