The Indian rupee gained on Thursday despite surging crude oil prices and a stronger dollar, as likely dollar sales from the Reserve Bank of India continued to keep the local unit from record lows, traders said.
The rupee was at 83.16 against the U.S. dollar as of 11:15 a.m., compared with its previous close of 83.22. The currency had hit a record low of 83.29 in October 2022.
While the rupee seemed poised to test record low levels before the spot market opened, RBI likely intervened, selling dollars in both the non-deliverable forward and spot markets, traders said.
RBI may continue supplying dollars through the session and guard strongly against moves above 83.25, a foreign exchange trader at a state-run bank said. "Between 83.10 and 83.25 could be the range for today."
Brent crude oil futures rose to $97.69, their highest since November last year, on concerns over tightening supplies. Meanwhile, the 10-year U.S. treasury yield was lower in Asia hours after rising to a 16-year peak on Wednesday.
Continuation of such pressures "will keep the rupee on the boil," said Alok Sharma, associate vice president of treasury at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
RBI is likely to continue defending the currency but, "it may be wiser to let it depreciate a little and then protect," Sharma added, referring to more foreign exchange reserves possibly being consumed to hold current levels.
Foreign investors have turned net sellers of Indian equities in September, adding to pressure on the rupee.
The dollar index was at 106.64, largely holding steady near a 10-month high. Asian currencies were mostly lower, with the Malaysian ringgit down nearly 0.4% and leading losses.
Investors will keep an eye on whether FTSE Russell includes India in its emerging markets government bond index. The decision is expected on Sept. 28.
U.S. second-quarter GDP data and initial jobless claim numbers are due later on Thursday as well, and could provide further cues for U.S. Federal Reserve policy. (Reporting by Jaspreet Kalra; Editing by Varun H K)