Attempts to stabilise rupee value dent Forex kitty

Mumbai, Jan 16 (IANS) The apex bank’s efforts to arrest the sliding rupee value, coupled with massive outflows of foreign funds from equity and bond markets depletes India’s foreign exchange reserves (Forex) kitty by $1.43 billion, experts said on Saturday.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the overall Forex reserves stood at $348.93 billion for the week ended January 8.

The foreign reserves’ kitty had plunged by $1.68 billion to $350.36 billion for the week ended January 1.

Market observers pointed out that the depletion in total reserves can be attributed to the central bank’s attempts to arrest the fall in the rupee’s value.

“RBI’s selling activities to stabilise the falling rupee can be attributed to this massive fall. The central bank has been very active in its attempts to keep the rupee in a stable trajectory,” Anindya Banerjee, associate vice president for currency derivatives with Kotak Securities, told IANS.

According to Banerjee, the strengthening US dollar on account of a recent rate hike by the US Fed and weak global macros had put pressure on the Forex treasury.

“The dollar index had risen by 0.30 percent in the week under review. The dollar had strengthened and thereby impacted the reserves,” Banerjee added.

In addition, the foreign currency assets (FCAs) which is the largest component of India’s Forex reserves declined by $1.42 billion to $326.39 billion in the week under review.

Apart from the US dollar, the FCAs consist of nearly 20-30 percent of major non-US dollar global currencies, securities and bonds.

Other market observers noted that Forex revaluation has had a negative impact on reserves.

“Nearly 20-30 percent of the Indian reserves are made up of major non-US dollar global currencies. The individual movement of these currencies have a direct bearing on the total reserves. Currency revaluation in that week led to the correction in the total reserves,” a currency analyst told IANS from New Delhi.

The analyst elaborated that on a medium term, the RBI is seen comfortable with the rupee ranging anywhere between 66.50-67.50 to a US dollar.

Anything beyond or below this limit provokes the central bank to intervene by either buying or selling the greenback.

Lately, the rupee has been on a downward trajectory due to heavy outflows of foreign funds from the equity and debt markets.

On a weekly basis, the rupee fell by 50 paise to 66.64 (January 8) to a US dollar from its previous close of 66.14 to a greenback (January 1).

The National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) figures showed that the FPIs were net buyers during the week ended January 8 2016. They bought Rs.981.6 crore or $145.15 million in equity and debt markets from January 4-8.

In contrast, the data with stock exchanges showed that the FPIs sold stocks worth Rs.3,550.74 crore in the week under review.

However, the country’s gold reserves were stagnant at $17.24 billion.

The gold reserves had diminished by $303.7 million to $17.24 billion during the week ended January 1.

Furthermore, the special drawing rights (SDRs) were lower by $4 million at $3.99 billion.

Similarly, the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slipped. It inched down by $1.3 million to $1.29 billion.

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