Indian rupee gains; high retail inflation damps rate cut hopes

Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:24pm IST

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* USD/INR ends at 54.1750/1850 vs 54.41/42 on Monday

* Consumer price inflation rises 10.91 pct in Feb

* RBI likely to cut repo rate by 25 bps - Reuters poll

By Subhadip Sircar

MUMBAI, March 12 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee rose on Tuesday helped by foreign fund inflows, but gains were kept in check as some traders scaled back hopes of a rate cut by the central bank after consumer price inflation showed a spike and factory output rose more than expected.

India's annual consumer price inflation inched up to 10.91 percent in February from 10.79 percent a month ago, data released on Tuesday showed.

Separately, India's industrial output expanded for the first time in three months in January, growing more than estimated, and showing some signs of recovery in economic growth.

The rupee tumbled from the day's high as some dealers trimmed hopes of a rate cut with data showing retail inflation continued to remain stubbornly high, while the economy showed some traction.

"Some traders who had gone short dollars saw stop-losses getting triggered after the IIP and CPI data. But some selling by foreign banks kept rupee losses in check," said Sudarshan Bhat, chief forex dealer at Corporation Bank in Mumbai.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 54.1750/1850 per dollar versus its previous close of 54.41/42, a fourth day of gains out of five. It traded in a 54.17-54.40 band in session.

However, most economists who participated in a Reuters poll still expect the RBI to cut rates by 25 basis points on March 19.

The rupee may find some support from the government's stake sale in National Aluminium Co this week, which is expected to fetch about $260 million.

In the offshore non-deliverable forwards, the one-month contract was at 54.60, while the three-month was at 55.20.

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 54.37 with a total traded volume of $5.6 billion. (Editing by Jijo Jacob)

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