Mumbai: Falling for the first time in three days, rupee on Wednesday weakened by 17 paise to close at over three-week low of 54.43 on capital outflows and dollar demand from exporters, amid concerns over current account deficit.
At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the domestic unit resumed lower at 54.42 a dollar from overnight close of 54.26 and moved in a narrow range of 54.34 and 54.46. It finally settled at 54.46, displaying a fall of 17 paise or 0.31 percent. Rupee had closed at 54.56 on March 7.
The rupee movement closely tracked the Indian stock market benchmark S&P BSE Sensex which snapped its four-session upsurge as it closed down by 239.31 points.
FIIs pulled out nearly Rs 370 crore from Indian stocks on Wednesday as per provisional data with stock exchanges.
During Wednesday's trade, an HSBC survey said India's private sector output for the month of March witnessed the slowest rate of expansion in 17 months owing to a significant decline in new business orders. This also dampened rupee sentiment.
The dollar index, a gauge of six major global rivals, was up by 0.07 percent putting emerging market currencies like rupee under pressure.
In recent days, the rupee has traded in a narrow zone as gains were capped by all-time high current account deficit.     

"The rupee was seen depreciating on Wednesday as negative stock markets put pressure. Internationally, Euro was seen trading lower amid uncertainties and US dollar index was trading higher taking cues from the strong economic reports," said Abhishek Goenka, Founder and CEO, India Forex Advisors.
Going ahead, we expect rupee to trade in the range of 54.10-54.60 levels in near term, he added.

A recent Nomura report said: "With the CAD to remain a significant overhang on India's overall BoP and limited policy implementation to address the structural deficit, a sustained rally in rupee will likely continue to be difficult without consistent positive piecemeal policy announcements or at least hopes of impending announcements.    "
Meanwhile, the premium for the forward dollar fell back on fresh receipts by exporters. The benchmark six-month forward dollar premium payable in September finished weak at 193-194-1/2 paise from Monday's close of 196-198 paise.
Far-forward contracts maturing in March also closed down at 364-365-1/2 paise from 368-370-1/2 paise.

The RBI fixed the reference rate for the US dollar at 54.3885 and for euro at 69.5881. The rupee recovered against the pound sterling to 82.25 from overnight close of 82.40 while moved down further to 69.76 per euro from 69.62.
It also remained weak against the Japanese yen to 58.23 per 100 yen from previous close of 58.18.


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