Rupee weakens to over 8-month low

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 23, 2016-

Nepali rupee has been taking a beating for the last two weeks, as the Indian rupee has come under pressure after Donald Trump won the US presidential election, triggering US dollar’s biggest rally “in eight years”.

Nepali rupee has lost 2.32 against the US dollar since Trump won the US presidential election on November 8. It closed at 109.32 per dollar on Tuesday. 

The rupee will lose six paisa by the time the market opens on Wednesday, to trade at over eight-month low of 109.38 per dollar, shows the reference rate of Nepal Rastra Bank. Nepali rupee was last traded at this level on March 1.

Nepali rupee has lately been losing strength, as Indian currency is tumbling. Any change in the value of the Indian currency causes Nepali rupee to fluctuate because Nepali rupee is pegged to Indian currency at 1.6.

Indian rupee, which opened at 68.11 against the dollar on Tuesday, lost 0.2 percent over the day to close at 68.26 a dollar-a level last seen on February 29, according to LiveMInt.

Indian rupee is currently under pressure as foreign investors are offloading Indian assets, such as shares and bonds, triggering massive outflow of US dollars.

Foreign investors sold $1.5 billion in bonds and $1.4 billion in equities in India from November 9-17, according to Bloomberg. This was the same in other emerging markets, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. This has triggered a capital flight, putting pressure on local currencies.

“Fund outflows from emerging markets will probably continue for a while and then investors will see if Trump will carry out some policies he has mentioned before the election, such as fiscal stimulus and protectionist-type trade policies,” Masakatsu Fukaya, an emerging markets trader with Mizuho Bank in Tokyo told Bloomberg. “Many of his policies may lead to a stronger dollar and are negative on the emerging markets.”

There are already indications that Trump will spend more on domestic infrastructure, which will further raise demand for the greenback.

Also, US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks on Thursday indicated that the monetary authority is close to raising interest rates as the economy continues to gain traction. Odds that the Fed will raise borrowing rates have risen to 96 percent from 68 percent at the start of this month, according to Bloomberg.  This may lead to more outflows of the greenback from India and other Asian markets, which will weaken various Asian currencies, including Indian rupee. A fall in Indian rupee’s value will automatically cause Nepali rupee to weaken. Nepali rupee’s fall spells good news to recipients of remittance here, as they will get more of Nepali currency while exchanging money sent by their family members or friends working abroad. 

Exporters too stand to benefit from a weak currency, as foreigners who purchase goods and services in Nepal will get more of local currency while exchanging dollars, enabling them to buy more products here. But Nepal has not been able to use falling rupee to its advantage, because many firms here do not operate in full capacity because of prolonged hours of power cuts and other structural problems.

While weak currency is not likely to lift the country’s flagging exports, it may make imports expensive because Nepali traders have to fork out extra rupees to exchange dollars, in which payments of foreign trade are settled.

If imports become expensive, consumer prices may go up. So, a weak currency has the potential to stoke inflation.

Published: 23-11-2016 08:44

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