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Rupee sinks to lifetime-low as Ukraine crisis threatens to push India’s oil-import bill

Rupee declined as much as 1% to 76.96 per dollar, past its previous low of 76.90. It has now turned into Asia’s worst performer this year.

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Mumbai: The Indian rupee tumbled to a record low along with stocks and bonds as a spike in oil prices spurred by the war in Ukraine threatened to inflate the nation’s oil-import bill and fan inflationary pressures.

The rupee declined as much as 1% to 76.9625 per dollar, past its previous low of 76.9088. Benchmark government bond yields rose six basis points to 6.87%, while the S&P BSE SENSEX Index fell as much as 3.3% to 52,542.64, the lowest since July.

Today’s move has turned the rupee into Asia’s worst performer this year as surging crude prices fueled worries about the country’s balance of payments. India imports nearly three-fourth of its oil, making it one of the most vulnerable in Asia to higher prices.

India’s benchmark equity index dropped to its lowest level in more than seven months with most of the 30 stocks of the S&P BSE Sensex trading in the red.

“Geopolitical risks will likely stay elevated, especially on the terms of trade shock and current-account deficit implications,” Barclays Plc. analysts including Ashish Agrawal wrote in a note. “The INR is more sensitive to supply side oil shocks,” he said, adding that the Reserve Bank of India “is likely to continue selling USD passively, but is unlikely to defend any particular level.”

Foreign funds have taken out about $16 billion from India’s equity markets since September. The initial share sale of Life Insurance Corp., widely referred to as India’s Aramco moment, is also increasingly likely to be deferred given the volatile geopolitical conditions.

Traders were expecting $5-$6 billion of inflows from the share sale, which would have provided some support to the currency.- Bloomberg

Also read: Gold surges above $2,000 as war in Ukraine boosts demand for haven


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