Rupee to assess dollar rally despite a soft US jobs report

By Nimesh Vora and Jaspreet Kalra

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian rupee is likely to open little changed on Monday after a soft U.S. jobs report reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will not hike interest rates anymore, but the dollar still managed to rally.

Non-deliverable forwards (NDF) indicate rupee will open at around Friday’s level of 82.7150.

“It’s a bit confusing today. There is no doubt that the Fed will not hike in September, but then the dollar has moved up,” a forex trader at a bank said.

“The NDF indicated a quiet open, but I think we will be higher (on USD/INR).”

The U.S. non-farm payrolls data showed that the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% in August and wage growth was soft at 0.2% month-on-month. U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in August, slightly more than estimates but there are a net 110,000 of downward revisions to the past couple of months.

Following the report, futures indicated almost no chance of a September rate hike and about a 35% chance of a hike in November.

“It’s pretty safe to say the Fed isn’t hiking in September with this backdrop, and we don’t think they will in November either,” ING Bank said in a note.

“This continued rebalancing of the labour market is consistent with our view that the July hike in the Fed funds rate was the last of the cycle,” Goldman Sachs said in a note.

The dollar and U.S. yields initially dropped following the report but recovered later. The dollar index reached a high of 104.26 on Friday and the 10-year U.S. Treasury yields reached 4.17%.

U.S. markets are off on Monday on account of the Labor Day holiday.

KEY INDICATORS: ** One-month non-deliverable rupee forward at 82.74; onshore one-month forward premium at 8.25 paisa ** USD/INR NSE September futures settled at 82.7775 on Friday ** USD/INR September forward premium at 6.75 paisa ** Dollar index at 104.16 ** Brent crude futures flat at $88.6 per barrel ** Ten-year U.S. note yield at 4.18% ** Foreign investors bought a net $152.2mln worth of Indian shares on Sep. 1** NSDL data shows foreign investors bought a net $20.6mln worth of Indian bonds on Sep. 1

(Reporting by Nimesh Vora; editing by Eileen Soreng)