The rupee appreciated by 37 paise - or -0.49 per cent - against the US dollar on Friday tracking gains in Asian currencies. That marked the first time the rupee returned to the 74 levels against the greenback since March 27. The rupee moved in a range of 74.57-75.02 against the US currency during the session before shutting shop at 74.64, having started the day mildly stronger at 74.58 compared to Thursday's close of 75.01. Gains in the domestic equity markets and weakness in the dollar overseas supported the rupee, say analysts.
Domestic stock markets trimmed early gains after climbing to near four-month highs tracking global equities, with benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty on course to register a third straight weekly gain.
The S&P BSE Sensex index rose as much as 0.74 per cent - or 266.51 points - to 36,110.21 during the session and the broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark gained to as high as 10,631.30, led by gains in IT, energy and automobile shares supported the markets.
Most Asian currencies registered mild gains against the US dollar, with the Japanese yen, the Chinese yuan, the Singaporean dollar and the South Korean won last seen trading between 0.04 and 0.11 per cent higher.
The dollar index - which measures the greenback against six currencies - was down 0.11 per cent at the time, having declined as much as 0.17 per cent earlier.
Crude oil prices fell below the $43 per barrel mark on Friday as a resurgence of coronavirus cases raised concern that fuel demand growth could stall, although they were still headed for a weekly gain on lower supply and wider signs of economic recovery. Brent crude futures - the global benchmark for crude oil - were down 1.2 per cent at $42.62 per barrel.
Analysts expect the rupee to continue to gain in the near term.
“The rupee has been underperforming its peers in the Asian region since April, thanks to relentless buying by the central bank... It seems that a rise in capital flows may have happened at a time when the RBI's pace of intervention has slowed and that may have caused the USD-INR (pair) to fall below 75 levels," said Anindya Banerjee, DVP, currency derivatives and interest rate derivatives at Kotak Securities.
"The trend continues to remain bullish for the rupee against the dollar, and the currency can touch 74.20/40 levels in the coming days,” he added.
At the current level, the rupee is down 4.60 per cent against the American currency so far this year.
Currency markets currently operate within reduced trading hours due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The temporary timings are from 10 am to 2 pm, instead of the normal timings of 9 am to 5 pm.