India rupee falls as monsoon, swine flu woes loom
* Strong factory output help rupee off two-week low
* Pull back in shares from over 2 pct fall also helps
* Traders await monsoon forecast update on Thursday (Updates to close)
By Swati Bhat
MUMBAI, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee fell on Wednesday as deficient monsoon rains and worries over the spread of swine flu weighed, but it crawled back from two-week lows after the stock market trimmed sharp losses.
The partially convertible rupee INR=IN ended down 0.8 percent at 48.37/38 per dollar after hitting 48.50, its lowest since July 30, compared with Tuesday's close of 47.97/98.
"There was dollar buying by foreign institutional investors. The industrial output figure was better than expected but the impact was not much on account of worries about the monsoon and swine flu," said Puneet Sharma, chief foreign exchange dealer at state-run Allahabad Bank.
June industrial output expanded at its fastest pace in 16 months, beating forecasts by a wide margin, as higher salaries of government employees and stimulus spending boosted consumer demand. [ID:nBOM167869]
H1N1 pandemic flu is spreading in India, Thailand and Vietnam with the onset of Asia's monsoon season, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday. [ID:nLB713194]
Dealers said they would watch the monsoon forecast update on Thursday for clues of the impact on the broader economy.
"The outlook is rupee positive. The monsoon data tomorrow may be somewhat better than what we have seen so far. I expect the rupee to open around 48.25 levels and then the overnight dollar moves and Asian stocks would provide direction," Sharma said.
The monsoon rainfall deficit widened by one percentage point from the previous day to 29 percent on Aug. 10, with rains in the soybean-growing central region weakening. [ID:nISL372941]
One-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts PNDF were at 48.39/49, marginally weaker than the onshore spot rate.
In the currency futures market, the most traded near-month contract on the National Stock Exchange and MCX-SX closed at 48.4025 and 48.4150 respectively, with the total traded volume on the two exchanges at a high $2.2 billion. (Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)
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India and its South Asian neighbours are expected to see below average to average rains this year if the El Nino weather pattern gains strength during the four-month monsoon season, a forum of weather experts said. Read