By Anant Chandak
BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s rupee will still be very close to its historic low in six months despite the Reserve Bank of India using its coffers to cut volatility, according to a Reuters poll in which over a third of analysts forecast it to reach a new low in a year.
Having traded in its narrowest range in two decades this year, the rupee fell to a 10-month low of 83.18 on Wednesday, close to the 83.29/$ record low hit in October 2022, due to expectations resilient U.S. yields will keep the dollar well-bid.
However, the RBI’s regular interventions, which have brought foreign currency reserves below $600 billion, ensured limited depreciation.
Median forecasts in the Sept. 1-6 poll of 45 analysts showed the rupee would gain modestly to 82.88 a dollar and 82.75 a dollar by end-September and end-November, respectively.
It was forecast to have gained less than 1% from Wednesday’s level to 82.50 a dollar in six months and around 1.5% to 81.95 a dollar in a year.
“The rupee is still being managed within a very tight range though recently has been pushed up against the top of its trading band and it looks clear that absent intervention it would weaken, perhaps substantially. The RBI doesn’t seem to want to let that happen,” said Robert Carnell, regional head of research at ING.
“Headline inflation will surge again this month and remain high for a few months before it retreats back within its target range. That usually puts pressure on the rupee to weaken…but rising global food prices are another reason for wanting to keep the currency strong. A softer rupee can wait.”
Inflation in India was expected to remain above the RBI’s 2% to 6% target range at least until October, but the central bank has resorted to market intervention rather than policy action to bolster the currency.
The RBI burned through about $14 billion of foreign reserves in just over a month in August.
Forecasts were in a tight range between 80.00/$ and 85.33/$ over the coming 12 months, narrower than a 78.83/$-85.80/$ range in a poll taken a month ago.
Over a third of the 45 economists polled predicted the currency would touch a new record low sometime over the coming year.
“Even if the rupee comes under downward pressure in the near term, we think the central bank is well-placed to ramp up its intervention in the FX market…given it spent the first half of the year accumulating FX reserves,” said Thamashi De Silva, assistant India economist at Capital Economics.
“To be clear, the rupee has…gone through our end-year forecast of 83.0/$ and it may now end the year below our expectations. But…we expect the rupee to rebound next year as the Fed loosens policy and U.S. Treasury yields retreat.”
(For other stories from the September Reuters foreign exchange poll:)
(Reporting by Anant Chandak; Polling by Veronica Khongwir and Milounee Purohit; Editing by Jonathan Cable and Sharon Singleton)