* USD/INR ends at 54.02/03 vs 54.355/365 on Thursday
* Slowdown in econ is less supportive of ratings - S&P
* Rupee gains for second week, up 0.5 pct
By Subhadip Sircar
MUMBAI, March 15 The Indian rupee rose to a
two-week high on Friday, notching up a second consecutive week
of gains, helped by inflows tied to a domestic share sale and by
a weaker dollar after strong U.S. data raised chances of an
early retreat from monetary easing.
The government was selling a 5 percent stake in state-run
National Aluminium Co Ltd to raise at least 5.1 billion
rupees ($93.91 million).
The rupee also benefited as the dollar weakened globally
after strong U.S. economic data raised the prospect the U.S.
Federal Reserve may retreat earlier from its monetary easing
Still, investors are widely looking ahead at the Reserve
Bank of India's policy review on Tuesday amid expectations that
the central bank will cut interest rates by 25 basis points in a
bid to support economic growth.
"Corporate selling in the morning and gains in the euro have
helped the rupee despite stocks turning negative," said Naveen
Raghuvanshi, associate vice president at Development Credit
"If there is a rate cut on Tuesday, equities may gain and
the rupee may rise to 53.70-53.75 levels."
The partially convertible rupee closed at 54.02/03
per dollar versus its previous close of 54.355/365. It rose to
53.97 in the session, the highest level since Feb. 28.
The rupee gained 0.6 percent on the day, its biggest daily
rise since Jan. 30. For the week, it rose 0.5 percent.
Broader gains were capped after a Standard & Poor's analyst
said the slowdown in India's growth was less supportive for the
country's sovereign credit ratings.
S&P rated India at "BBB-minus", one notch above junk, and
cut its outlook to "negative" from "stable" last year, denoting
a one-in-three possibility of a ratings downgrade.
In the offshore non-deliverable forwards, the
one-month contract was at 54.44, while the three-month was at
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 54.19 with a total traded volume of $5.1 billion.
($1 = 54.3100 Indian rupees)
(Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)