Rupee’s direction guided by Fed outlook, RBI at start of 2024

By Nimesh Vora

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian rupee will open little changed on Monday, with the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate outlook and the Reserve Bank of India’s forex strategy expected to be the key to begin the New Year.

Non-deliverable forwards indicate the rupee will open nearly unchanged from 83.2075 on Friday. Other Asian markets were off.

“The most important things I can think of to begin the year are the Fed and RBI,” an FX trader at a bank said.

The balance of risks for USD/INR is on the downside (on USD/INR, “simply based” on the dollar’s struggles premised on the Fed pivot and “hope of a different RBI”, he said.

The RBI has persistently intervened in foreign exchange markets on both sides over the last several weeks, keeping USD/INR in a narrow range, according to traders.

Over the last two months, expectations that the Fed will cut rates several times in 2024 have hurt demand for the dollar.

The dollar index has declined 5% over November and December on the back of investors pricing five or six Fed rate cuts this year.

The first rate cut is expected to be delivered as soon as March.

Some analysts see an uncertain period at the beginning of the year.

“Given the moves we’ve seen in November/December, 2024 is unlikely to start with clear trends,” Societe Generale said in a note.

Important U.S. data is due this week, which could impact the interest rate outlook and, consequently, the dollar.

The US ISM manufacturing data is due Wednesday, followed by services and non-farm payrolls print on Friday.

KEY INDICATORS: ** One-month non-deliverable rupee forward at 83.30; onshore one-month forward premium at 8.25 paise

** Brent crude futures dropped to $77.04 per barrel on Fri ** Ten-year U.S. note yield at 3.87% on Fri

** As per NSDL data, foreign investors bought a net $679.7mln worth of Indian shares on Dec. 28

** NSDL data shows foreign investors bought a net $105.4mln worth of Indian bonds on Dec. 28

(Reporting by Nimesh Vora; Editing by Sohini Goswami)