The rupee depreciated nearly 1 per cent on Wednesday as the country entered the fifteenth day of a 21-day lockdown to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. After starting the day at 75.83 against the greenback, the rupee sank below the 76 mark during the session. By afternoon, it had dropped by as much as 73 paise – or 0.97 per cent – to hit 76.36 against the US currency at the day’s weakest point. It settled at 76.34 against the dollar, down 71 paise compared to its previous close of 75.63.
At this level, the rupee is down 6.98 per cent against the dollar so far this year.
Rising crude oil prices and dollar strength overseas along with volatile trade in the domestic equity markets hurt the rupee, say analysts.
Crude oil prices steadied near $32 per barrel, supported by hopes that a meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers on Thursday will trigger output cuts to shore up prices that have collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brent crude – the global benchmark for crude oil rates – was last down 9 cents at $31.78, a day after falling 3.6 per cent.
The dollar index – which gauges the strength of the US currency against six major peers overseas – was last seen at 100.1530, as against its previous close of 99.9000.
By next week, the government is expected to lift its 21-day countrywide lockdown that has rattled businesses and brought economic activity to a grinding halt.
As of early Wednesday, India reported over 4,500 infections and nearly 150 deaths caused by the COVID-19 disease.
There are more than 14.30 lakh declared cases of coronavirus worldwide.
The money markets now operate from 10 am to 2 pm, in a shift from eight trading hours (from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm) in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The current timings will continue till April 17.