MUMBAI The rupee notched up its biggest single-day gain in three weeks on Friday boosted by inflows delayed by a strike that curtailed trading over the last couple of sessions, but investors were jittery ahead of the crucial 2013/14 budget next week.
Investors are focusing on the budget, which will be keenly watched to see how Finance Minister P. Chidambaram balances the tightrope walk between fiscal discipline and populist spending ahead of elections in 2014.
However, global risk sentiment will also be important, as the dollar surged this week on doubts about just how long the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep its quantitative easing in place.
"If the numbers are right in the budget, and seen as realistic, then we will see rupee rally below 53.60," said Moses Harding, head of asset liability management at IndusInd Bank.
The partially convertible rupee closed at 54.175/185 per dollar versus its previous close of 54.47/48. It rose 0.1 percent in the week, snapping two weeks of losses.
Dealers cited foreign fund-related dollar inflows from banks, which were bunched up as trading was thin in the last two days due to a two-day national strike, which kept most dealers at state-run banks away.
Currency markets were also closed on Tuesday for a banking holiday.
Some inflows were also related to TPG Capital's $305 million stake sale in Indian commercial vehicle financier Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd (SRTR.NS).
Investors are gearing up for a busy week ahead, especially with the government also set to unveil its October-December economic growth data.
In the offshore non-deliverable forwards, the one-month contract was at 54.51, while the three-month was at 55.16.
In the currency futures market, the most-traded near-month dollar/rupee contract on the National Stock Exchange, the MCX-SX and the United Stock Exchange all closed at around 54.29 with a total traded volume of $6.1 billion.
(Editing by Sunil Nair)