India’s soaring rupee in 'uncomfortable' zone

NEW DELHI, India - India’s finance minister has said unprecedented foreign investment flows into the rapidly growing economy have pushed the rupee higher into an 'uncomfortable' zone.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 13 Oct 2007, 4:22 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Mar 2024, 11:24 AM

“We must find ways to manage a competitive exchange rate without hurting investments,” Chidambaram told a conference organised by the Hindustan Times newspaper late on Friday.

The rupee is in an “uncomfortable zone,” he said.

Lifted by a tide of overseas money into domestic shares following a cut in US interest rates last month, the currency strengthened beyond the psychologically key 40 rupees to the dollar barrier.

“This is a new situation,” Chidambaram said. “But we are not alarmed by it. We will gain mastery.”

The rupee finished the week Friday flat against the dollar at 39.3, a nine-and-a-half year high.

Dealers say the central bank has been buying dollars to restrain the rupee’s rally and protect exports which have been slowing.

But analysts say there is relentless upward pressure on the rupee and expect it to gain further as foreign investors buy shares and pour money into plants and infrastructure projects to exploit the booming economy.

As of Friday’s finish, the benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index, or Sensex, had gained nearly 34 percent this year, led by record net overseas fund inflows of 16.54 billion dollars.

Some analysts say the rupee could be at 38 to the dollar by mid-next year or even lower. The rupee has already risen by over 11 percent this year against the dollar, making it Asia’s best performing currency.

Chidambaram said as long as investors were getting good returns ”I don’t believe they are waiting to take their money out.”

The benchmark Sensex stock exchange index has risen over 15 percent since the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 50 basis points on September 18.

“The liquidity outlook for India equities remains positive... but the magnitude remains excessive by historic standards,” said Bharat Iyer, head of equities at J.P. Morgan Chase.

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