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Indian rupee rise to fresh three-week high in morning
December, 31st 2010

The Indian rupee rose to fresh three-week highs on Friday morning, buoyed by broad losses in the dollar, with traders watching the domestic sharemarket performance for cues on the direction of foreign fund flows.

At 9:40 a.m. (0410 GMT), the partially convertible rupee was at 44.85/86 per dollar, its strongest since Dec. 7 and 0.2 percent above 44.95/96 at close on Thursday.

"There is not much action today, rupee has gained tracking the euro movements mainly," said Ashtosh Raina, head of foreign exchange trading at HDFC Bank .

The Swiss franc probed fresh highs versus a broadly weaker dollar early in Asia on Friday and was within easy reach of a record peak against the euro, though thin flows dominated direction in the last trading day of the year.

The euro rose as high as $1.3314 versus its previous close of $1.3287. The index of the dollar against six major currencies was down 0.1 percent at 79.460 points.

"Rupee should hold in a 44.80-45.00 band during the day but if the strong support of 44.80 is broken, then rupee could rise further towards 44.50 in the near-term," a senior dealer with a state-run bank said.

Traders said there could be some residual month-end dollar demand from oil refiners, which was likely to put the brakes on any sharp rise in the local currency.

Oil is India's biggest import and refiners are the largest buyers of dollars in the domestic currency market with their demand tending to peak at the end of each month when they are required to make payments.

Indian shares were trading up 0.4 percent in low-volume year-end trading and looked set to notch their first monthly gain in two, but profit sales were likely following a rally in the two previous sessions.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have bought $234 million worth of shares in the last four trading sessions until Wednesday but are still net sellers of around $332 million in December.

Total investments so far in 2010 stands at $28.7 billion, on top of the $17.5 billion pumped in last year.

One-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were quoted at 45.05, weaker than the onshore spot rate, suggesting a bearish near-term outlook.

In the currency futures market, the most traded near-month dollar-rupee contracts on the National Stock Exchange and MCX-SX were both at 45.0575, with the total traded volume on the two exchanges at $360 million.

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