Rupee extends rally, surges 18 paise to gain past 69 mark in early trade

Continuing its upward journery, the rupee gained past 69 level against the US dollar for the first time since August 10, 2018 in the early trade on Monday. The domestic unit opened at 68.91, up 18 paise against Friday's close of 69.09. 

On the macro front, India’s trade deficit for February narrowed to a 17-month low of $9.6 billion in February as merchandise imports fell on the back of lower crude oil prices. Exports rose 2.44 per cent to $26.67 billion in February from a year earlier, while imports were down 5.41 per cent to $36.26 billion. 

Gold imports in February fell 10.81 per cent year-on-year to $2.58 billion, compared to $2.90 billion a year ago. 

Continued fund inflow is keeping the rupee higher. "Today, USD/INR pair is expected to quote in the range of 68.70 and 69.40," said Gaurang Somaiya, Research Analyst (Currency) at Motilal Oswal Financial Services. 

Overseas investors poured in more than Rs 20,400 crore in the domestic capital market in the first half of March, mainly driven by positive global cues.

On the global front, Asian shares edged higher in the morning trade. Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.56 per cent, and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.35 per cent. Shanghai blue chips firmed 0.8 percent, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were a fraction lower, Reuters reported. 

In commodity markets, oil prices were just off their highest for the year so far.  

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