MUMBAI - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) likely intervened in the foreign exchange market to support the rupee on Friday, after most emerging market currencies fell sharply on heightened global tensions, dealers said.
The rupee fell to as low as 69.03 to the dollar, its lowest since July 24, before trimming some of its losses to trade at 68.95.
"It looks like RBI might have intervened," said Sajal Gupta, head of forex and rates at Edelweiss Securities.
"After the rupee opened with a gap, no one was willing to sell (dollars) at those levels. The rupee will continue to track the CNH. The next technical level for the rupee is 69.10."
The rupee has been the worst performing currency in Asia so far in 2018, falling 7.4 percent since the start of January. The currency has been beset by a host of factors, with higher oil prices adding to worries about inflation, current account and fiscal deficits and rising global trade tensions.
The RBI has intervened strongly in recent months to slow the slide, but it has still lost 3 percent since start of June.
With the central bank hiking interest rates, the rupee is expected to trade in a tight range in the coming year, possibly edging up to 68.22 but remaining near its historic low, a Reuters poll found.
The sharp fall in the rupee had prompted foreign investors to sell $5.35 billion in debt and equity in India. But flows turned mildly positive in July and August.
Since the rupee is traded over the counter, the size of interventions by the central bank during the day is difficult to ascertain. However, a few dealers estimated that the RBI might have sold close to $600-800 million so far on Friday to stem the rupee's fall.
The RBI typically intervenes in forex market through state-run banks.
Since April RBI has sold $21 billion in spot and $10 billion in forwards, according to traders and analysts, estimating from the fall in overall foreign exchange reserves and the central bank's monthly bulletin data.
"The RBI can hardly do anything against such a massive (dollar) selling force. Even if it tries to contain the slide today, on Monday the rupee will once again be under pressure," said a senior forex analyst at a state-run bank.
"The next crucial level for stop losses to get triggered at is 70, with many options with sell calls at that level."