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Indian Rupee to gain as RBI raises rates: Fortis

Fortes Bank says that India's rupee will gain by 5 per cent in the rest of this year as the central bank raises interest rates to combat inflation running at the fastest pace in 13 years.
By Bloomberg | None
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2008 04:04 PM IST

India's rupee will gain by 5 per cent in the rest of this year as the central bank raises interest rates to combat inflation running at the fastest pace in 13 years, according to Fortis Bank SA.

The currency will advance in the third and fourth quarters after having declined 1.8 per cent during the first half, as the central bank adds to its two rate increases from last month, said Joseph Tan, a senior market strategist at Fortis. The central bank on Tuesday will raise the repurchase rate to 8.75 per cent from 8.5 per cent, according to the median estimate of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

``The rupee is still struggling and it will benefit from a rate increase,'' Singapore-based Tan said in a telephone interview. ``Given the potential risks to inflation, the central bank will not take any chances.''

The rupee fell 0.4 per cent to 42.71 per dollar as of 10:30 am in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency will rise to 41.5 by Sept. 30 and to 40.5 by Dec. 31, the highest since April, Tan said. The rupee is the second-worst performer this year among the 10 most-traded currencies in Asia excluding the yen.

Wholesale prices rose 11.89 per cent in the week to July 12, after gaining 11.91 per cent in the previous week, the commerce ministry said in New Delhi on July 24. Inflation is twice as high as the central bank's goal.

To contain inflation, the central bank raised its benchmark rate to a more-than-six-year high in June. Tan predicts 9.25 per cent by the end of the year. It also increased to 8.75 per cent the cash reserve ratio, the proportion of deposits banks must set aside as reserves.

``The central bank has scope to flex its muscles in the currency market,'' Tan said. ``As long as rates are being raised investors are certain that inflation is being checked.''

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