India rupee gauges pause in rally on Asian peers, Fed minutes

By Nimesh Vora

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian rupee is likely to open nearly flat on Wednesday in the wake of weakness in Asian peers and Federal Reserve minutes that had little impact on interest rate expectations.

Non-deliverable forwards indicate rupee will open at around 83.32-83.35 to the U.S. dollar compared with 83.3550 in the previous session, which was a record closing low.

The rally in Asian currencies took a breather and the dollar index managed a bit of a recovery.

The Indonesian rupiah was down nearly 1%, pacing losses in Asia, while the dollar index inched up to 103.60, having dropped to a two-and-a-half month low on Tuesday.

The rupee “is in a phase where outside cues do not matter” and “it will just meander in a narrow range,” a spot forex trader at a bank said.

“There is no point in trading the USD/INR when volatility is this low.”

The 30-day annualize realized volatility on USD/INR is at just 1%, the lowest it has been in nearly 20 years. The beta or the rupee’s sensitivity to moves on the dollar has been low.

Minutes of the Fed’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1 meeting indicated that all policymakers agreed that the central bank should proceed “carefully” and only raise interest rates if progress in controlling inflation faltered.

The minutes drew little reaction, considering that investors have already discounted that the Fed will not be making changes to the policy rate at the December or January meeting.

There was no impact on the rate cut expectations for next year.

Investors are pricing in a rate cut at the May or June meeting and expect a total of 90 basis points of cuts in 2024.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes largely reaffirmed the Fed’s more cautious tone around tightening, which kept expectations well-anchored for further rate hold over coming meetings,” Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at broker IG Asia, said.

KEY INDICATORS: ** One-month non-deliverable rupee forward at 83.38; onshore one-month forward premium at 6.5 paisa ** Dollar index inches up to 103.60 ** Brent crude futures down 0.2% at $82.3 per barrel ** Ten-year U.S. note yield at 4.41%

** As per NSDL data, foreign investors sold a net $71.8 mln worth of Indian shares on Nov. 20

** NSDL data shows foreign investors sold a net $4.1 mln worth of Indian bonds on Nov. 20

(Reporting by Nimesh Vora; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)