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Rupee gains after RBI, Sebi restrict speculative trading

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The rupee rallied on Tuesday from a record low in the previous session after regulators restricted speculative trading in currency derivatives, although the measures are expected to provide only brief respite for the currency.

Late on Monday the Reserve Bank of India banned banks from proprietary trading in domestic currency futures and options, while Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) doubled the margin requirement on the domestic dollar-rupee forward trade.

The steps are the latest by regulators to curb speculative trading, which would pare short positions in the rupee, after some bankers said they had been discreetly asked last month by the RBI to trim intraday open positions.

However, the rupee is expected to remain vulnerable unless regulators can take stronger measures, as the currency's weak position is seen as a symptom of India's record high current account deficit.

"There will be some impact on the rupee, but not likely to be massive as this does not change the structural weakness of the Indian external balances," said Nizam Idris, head strategist for currency and fixed income at Macquarie Group.

The rupee closed at 60.14 per dollar after rising as high as 59.72 in early trade, and above the record low of 61.21 hit on Monday.

The rupee closed at 60.61/62 on Monday.

The gains were driven by large unwinding of long-dollar trades in futures and spot markets, dealers said.

"The RBI would like to shift a part of the futures trading to the over-the-counter segment where it has better regulatory control. This move may be to instill discipline in the inter-bank forex trading segment," said M. Natarajan, treasurer at Scotia Bank.

In the currency futures market, the most-traded near-month dollar/rupee contracts were down around 1.3 percent in all three exchanges. The average daily traded volume in the futures market has been around $5-$6 billion in recent weeks.

The rupee rebound had a knock-down effect on the domestic debt market as well. The benchmark 10-year bond yield was trading down 7 basis points at 7.50 per cent, while the most-traded 8.33 per cent 2026 bond yield fell as much as 8 basis points to 7.66 per cent.

Separately, the central bank on Monday made it easier for non-bank asset finance companies to raise money abroad, which could help attract dollars in the medium term, dealers said.

Analysts said the RBI would likely resort to other administrative steps in the near-term, most likely the provision of a special window to provide dollars to oil companies, the biggest buyers of greenbacks in domestic markets.

Meanwhile, in other measures, the government is taking steps to attract foreign direct investment and could review limits in sectors such as defence or issue a sovereign bond to non-resident Indians.

(Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013)

Story first published on: July 09, 2013 11:41 (IST)

Tags: Indian rupee, Rupee dollar, USD INR, RBI, Sebi

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