INDIA RUPEE-Dollar index retreat helps rupee recover, premiums rise

MUMBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee ended little changed to the U.S. currency on Thursday, as the dollar index’s decline helped the South Asian unit recover earlier losses.

The rupee closed at 82.51 to the dollar, compared with 82.4925 in the previous session and recovering from a session-low of 82.6625.

There was very little trading interest and the rupee was just basically tracking what the dollar was broadly doing, a spot dealer at a private sector bank said.

This kind of rangebound day is expected when, on one hand, you expect the central bank to be there and on the other hand, you have the usual dollar demand, the dealer added.

The volumes on the interbank order matching systems declined to $5.1 billion, the lowest in more than a month.

Motilal Securities reckons that USD/INR is likely to remain sideways in the 82.40 to 82.90 range.

The dollar index was down 0.4% to 103.02. The offshore Chinese yuan, like the rupee, recouped losses to trade at 6.7840 to the dollar after falling below 6.80 at one point.

The dollar’s pullback came alongside an improvement in risk sentiment. Futures indicated a recovery for U.S. equities after the overnight selloff and European shares advanced, while Treasury yields dipped.

Investors are assessing the outlook for the dollar following its rally on the back of the repricing of U.S. rate expectations.

Investors now expect a 25-bps rate hike in each of the Federal Reserve’s next two meetings. There were doubts about even one before the strong U.S. jobs report last Friday.

The rupee forward premiums rose with the 1-year reaching near 2.20%. The Reserve Bank of India’s hawkish policy outcome on Wednesday has prompted some analysts to pencil in one more rate hike in April, supporting the up move in premiums. (Reporting by Nimesh Vora; Editing by Savio D’Souza)