The Indian rupee saw its best trading session in three weeks on Thursday, as Asian currencies firmed on anticipation that the U.S. Federal Reserve was near the end of its rate hiking cycle. The Fed overnight hiked rates by 25 basis points (bps) and mellowed its hawkish stance by hinting it was on the verge of pausing after the recent collapse of two U.S. banks. Although the central bank kept the door open to another hike but saw no rate cuts this year, the probability of a pause at the May meeting was almost even with a 25 bps hike, along with 70 bps worth of rate cuts in 2023.
The Indian rupee ended little changed on Tuesday, as investors were wary ahead of a pivotal U.S. Federal Reserve bank meeting decision, amid major economies grappling with a banking sector crisis. Initial dollar bids from large state-run corporates and lacklustre trading volumes ahead of the Fed meeting led to the rupee staying contained in a range, said two traders. Heading into the risk event, traders said they built "slightly" long USD/INR positions as foreign exchange markets are shut in India on Wednesday.
The Indian rupee strengthened against the U.S. currency on Thursday, with traders citing inflows, but the Reserve Bank of India's likely intervention capped further gains and brought the local unit closer to 82 per dollar. The currency firmed to 81.7750 during the session, after which traders cited dollar buying by state-run banks, possibly on behalf of the country's central bank. The amount of inflows we're seeing shows the rupee could strengthen up to 81.50 or beyond, but we have to see if the central bank will allow it, a trader said.