Rupee, lira bounce back as concern about immediate Syria attack recedes

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 29, 2013 10:39 hrs

The Indian rupee and the Turkish lira bounced from this week's record lows on Thursday as concern receded about any immediate U.S.-led military strike on Syria.

The Israeli shekel also recovering from three-month lows.

Energy-importing emerging markets have suffered as oil jumped sharply this week on worries about the military action, and Israeli markets fell as Israel strengthened missile defences against a possible retaliatory attack by Syria.

Western powers have been gearing up for a strike on Syria in response to last week's chemical weapons attack, but U.S. President Barack Obama faced new obstacles with British allies and U.S. lawmakers that could delay any imminent action.

"The concerns about Syria have retreated compared with yesterday but it is a risk that is not going to disappear," said Cristian Maggio, emerging markets strategist at TD Securities.

"Any headline signalling an intervention will trigger a sell-off in emerging markets."

The rupee also found support, rallying 2 percent, after India's central bank said it would supply dollars to oil companies through a separate window in its latest attempt to shore up the currency. The central bank was likely selling dollars via state-run banks, traders said on Thursday.

Emerging market currencies in countries with high current account deficits such as India, Turkey and Brazil have plunged between 12 and 18 percent against the dollar this year, as portfolio flows exited on expectations of a withdrawal of the U.S. monetary stimulus that has boosted riskier assets.

The lira steadied and Turkish stocks rose as much as 2 percent from Wednesday's 12-month lows, while Saudi Arabia led a modest, partial recovery in Gulf markets.

The MSCI emerging equities index rose 1.2 percent after hitting 7-week lows on Wednesday and emerging sovereign debt spreads were unchanged at 376 basis points over U.S. Treasuries.

The Indonesian rupiah rose from 4-1/2 year lows as the central bank raised rates by 50 basis points, following a rate hike in Brazil in the previous session. The rand also held above 4-1/2 year lows.

The Kazakh tenge weakened 0.4 percent to 16-day lows against the dollar after the central bank said on Wednesday it would peg the currency to a basket of foreign currencies, replacing a managed float of the tenge that used the dollar as a reference currency.

The system is similar to that used by trading partner Russia.

"Based on our euro and rouble forecasts, we expect tenge depreciation against the dollar and appreciation against the basket in 12 months," said Barclays analysts in a client note.

The rouble was trading above Wednesday's 4-year lows against its basket and 7-week lows against the dollar.

More from Sify: