Rupee eyes Fed rate projections after in-line U.S. inflation data

By Nimesh Vora

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian rupee is expected to have a quiet opening on Wednesday after U.S. inflation came broadly in-line with expectations, with traders now awaiting the Federal Reserve’s new forecasts on interest rates.

Non-deliverable forwards indicate rupee will open broadly unchanged from 83.3875 in the previous session.

U.S. core consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.3% month-on-month and 4.0% year-on-year in November, matching estimates. The headline reading was slightly firmer than expected at 0.1% on-month.

“I doubt it would have mattered much (to USD/INR) if U.S. inflation numbers were a surprise on either side,” a FX trader at a bank said.

“(USD/INR) will keep knocking at 83.40 today. The main focus point on the Fed policy will be their dot plot for 2024.”

The Fed is set to make fresh forecasts for inflation, GDP and policy rates during U.S. trading hours on Wednesday. The path policymakers indicate will draw the most scrutiny considering how expectations regarding the Fed rate path have shifted.

Investors are pricing in more than 100 basis points of rate cuts in 2024, most likely beginning from May. The possibility of a rate cut at the March meeting is near 40%.

The median Fed projection for policy rate at end-2024 was at 5.125% in September.

“We expect a fall of least 25 bps to 4.875% with a possibility of a larger decline to 4.625%,” HSBC said in an note.

“The median projection for end-2025 may be just as important to watch.”

HSBC said the projection for the end of 2025 could fall 50 bps to 3.375%.

Investors be interested in any changes the Fed makes to the forward guidance of “the extent to which additional policy firming may be appropriate to return inflation to 2 percent over time.”

Asian currencies were mostly lower before the Fed decision and equities slipped.

(Reporting by Nimesh Vora; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)