The Indian Rupee closed out the week trading in a softer position against the US Dollar as demand for higher-risk assets was reduced by hawkish interest-rate related comments from Federal Reserve officials. Earlier this week the Rupee fluctuated against the ‘Greenback’ as the disappointing US Non-Farm Payrolls report continued to take a toll and India’s HSBC Services PMI declined by less-than-expected.
The services gauge dipped from 53.9 in February to 53.0 in March, prompting this response from economist Pollyanna De Lima; ‘India’s service sector ended the first three months of 2015 with a strong performance, providing signals that much of the weakness seen in 2014 has been left behind. Despite softening slightly since the prior month, growth of activity and new business in the country’s dominant sector was robust. These figures taken in conjunction with manufacturing mark a good quarter for businesses. The private sector labour market saw payroll numbers stabilise in March. Moreover, with unfinished business rising at a faster rate, companies will likely start hiring in coming months.’
Shortly after this, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) opted to leave interest rates on hold, asserting that it wishes to see how the current inflationary situation progresses before making further adjustments. Further USD/INR exchange rate movement occurred after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) published slightly hawkish minutes from its last policy meeting and US initial jobless claims figures impressed. The bullishness of the US Dollar was such that even India’s stronger-than-anticipated Manufacturing/Industrial production reports failed to give the Rupee a boost. Manufacturing production was up 5.2% on the year while industrial output increased by 5.0% compared with respective forecasts of 3.4% and 3.1%.
The Indian reports to focus on next week include the nation’s trade balance figures and Wholesale/Consumer Price Inflation indexes. The inflation data will be of particular interest as it might offer some guidance regarding the RBI’s next move. At the close of the week the US Dollar to Indian Rupee (USD/INR) exchange rate was trading in the region of 62.3950.