Indian rupee to get stronger, NRIs should remit now

Indian rupee to get stronger, NRIs should remit now

Dubai - The rupee has been one of the best-performing emerging market currencies this year.

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By Waheed Abbas

Published: Mon 7 Aug 2017, 6:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 7 Aug 2017, 6:57 PM

If you're a non-resident Indian (NRI) and looking to remit a handsome amount back home or planning to buy a property or invest in any venture, the time is now.

Going by views of analysts and industry executives, the Indian currency is likely to strengthen further against the US dollar -- thereby against the UAE dirham, because the Emirati currency is pegged to the greenback -- in the wake of Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to cut interest rates last week, and may strengthen as much as 1.1 per cent.

"Rupee has firmed up a bit more than we had expected it to. There hasn't been radical movement, and we feel that it might not breach 63.30 against the dollar for the time being. However, we can expect the Indian currency to hit 64.30 against the dollar in the month of August, as stocks across the globe are getting set to adjust with the third quarter earnings. In Indian markets, too, half yearly results are key to determine the trend of large cap and mid cap giants," commented Adeeb Ahamed, CEO of LuLu Exchange.

The rupee has already been one of best performing emerging market currencies this year as it has hitherto increased by nearly 7 per cent, thanks to inflows for foreign funds into the Indian equities.

The rupee was trading at 63.609 against the dollar and 17.311 against the dirham on Sunday afternoon. It hit a high of 63.58 last week against the US dollar, its highest level since July 2015.

The Indian central bank last week reduced the repo rate after a gap of almost 10 months by 0.25 percentage points to six per cent.

Aditya Pugalia, an analyst with Emirates NBD Research, agrees with Ahamed. "With the economy continuing to make progress and the RBI shifting gears to boost economic growth, we expect the Indian rupee to continue to strengthen, albeit at a slower pace," he noted.

The rupee, according to Pugalia, is among the best performing emerging market currencies in 2017 having rallied 6.8 per cent year-to-date. While the broad US dollar weakness has helped, the primary driver has been inflows from foreign institutional investors into Indian equities. In the first seven months of 2017, foreign institutional investors have bought stocks worth $8.9 billion.

Promoth Manghat, CEO, UAE Exchange, echoes Manghat and Ahamed, saying rupee could climb further in the near-term as the RBI's interest rate cut lures more inflows into local market.

"The break in USD/INR below 64 means the RBI will not hinder the inflows, leading to further near-term rupee appreciation. Asia's third-largest economy has borrowing costs placed at the lowest since 2010, spurring growth and earnings along with encouraging foreign investments of about $8.8 billion in local stock this year. Economic and political stability along with reform momentum attract inflows, which will further appreciate the rupee. The rupee reached a two-year high after the RBI's decision on Wednesday. Meanwhile analysts are predicting INR to be range bound at 61-65 range per dollar by March next year."

Don't hold back

Since rupee is expected to strengthen further, NRIs have been advised not to hold back their liquid assets and instead go ahead and invest in India.

"The interest rates for deposits will not be tampered with in the near future as the banks have already figured out the NPA (non-performing assets). Adding to it, consolidation of banks are on the cards in India. Therefore, there is no point in holding back liquid assets. In fact, it is the right time to invest in India as the entire world acknowledges it to be one of the fastest growing economies," Ahamed advised.

On a more pragmatic level, Ahamed believes Indian expatriates need to be educated on investing in their home country. "I believe there is ample opportunity for expats to invest in a number of developmental and infrastructure projects that will be in good stead for the country as well as create a fallback for them when they return home."

Manghat said it's still a good time for NRIs to remit funds to NRE accounts as rupee is expected to range between 61 and 65 per dollar.

"Since the GCC is mostly US dollar denominated, the interest rate reduction in India or minor appreciation in rupee value isn't going to impact much to the fund transfers of a non-resident Indian, who will anyway enjoy an overall benefit. Also capital markets are doing well in India. NRIs should take advantage of the same and look beyond NRE deposits to invest in the capital market," Manghat advised Indian expatriates.

He predicts rupee's appreciation should comparatively reduce the remittance volume. But the regular remitters will send money for family maintenance irrespective of currency fluctuations. It is the opportunist remitters, who wait for currency depreciation to take advantage of getting more money in conversion while sending money to India.

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