India rupee falls to 2-week low; S&P warns on rating

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 19:01 hrs

* USD/INR ends 53.0450/0550 vs 52.72/73 previous close

* S&P warns rating cut risks remains despite current reforms

* Rupee falls for 4th successive session

By Subhadip Sircar

MUMBAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee fell to its lowest in two weeks on Wednesday, tracking gains in the global dollar and after rating agency Standard & Poor's said downgrade risks remained even after the current spate of reforms.

The fall in the rupee, exacerbated by the S&P warning, again highlighted the local currency's vulnerability to its twin deficits - the external account as well as the fiscal deficit.

S&P reiterated that India still faced a one-in-three chance of a credit rating downgrade within the next 24 months, adding that a downgrade was possible if external position deteriorates, political climate worsens, or fiscal reforms slow.

"I do not expect any sharp gains in the rupee as foreign fund inflows into stocks seem to have slowed in the past few sessions. Reform measures have not resulted in any real flows," said Param Sharma, director and chief executive at NSP Treasury Risk Management.

He expects the rupee to further weaken to 53.50 to the dollar and trade in a 52-54 band for the next 2-3 months.

The rupee was further weighed down by gains in the global dollar versus its currency basket and the euro as concerns about company earnings being hit by weak global growth hurt equities and drove investors into safer currencies.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 53.0450/0550 per dollar versus its previous close of 52.72/73, a fourth successive session of fall and its longest losing streak since late July.

It earlier hit a session low of 53.1850, its lowest since Sept. 27.

Dealers said dollar buying by state-run refiners and weak local stocks have contributed to the weakness in rupee.

The benchmark index ended down 0.86 percent.

The rupee had been on a roll, gaining for five straight weeks until Friday, rising 7.1 percent on the back of India's slew of fiscal and economic reforms and stimulus measures from global central banks.

Dealers are also waiting to watch whether the central bank buys dollars to replenish its forex reserves and reduce its forward liabilities which stood at $14.5 billion.

The one-month non-deliverable offshore contract was trading at 53.23 while the three-month was at 53.72.

In the currency futures market, the most-traded near-month dollar/rupee contracts on the National Stock Exchange, the MCX-SX and the United Stock Exchange all closed at around 53.17 with a total traded volume of about $6.7 billion. (Editing by Anand Basu)

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