The rupee on Thursday climbed 19 paise to close at 68.92 against the US dollar, also marking a third straight session of gains, driven by sustained foreign fund inflows. Besides, weakness in the greenback against major global currencies and easing crude prices aided the rupee uptrend. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.03 per cent to 96.91.
At the Interbank Foreign Exchange, the domestic unit opened at 69.15 and advanced to a high of 68.83 during the day. It finally settled at 68.92, a rise of 19 paise against the dollar over its previous close. The rupee on Wednesday had strengthened by 19 paise to 69.11 against the US dollar. In the last three trading sessions, it has appreciated by 75 paise.
"Beside weakness in American dollar against G-10 currencies, the fall in crude oil prices added strength in the domestic currency. Crude oil retreated from a five-month high after Russia's comment on crude output and an increase in US crude inventories," said VK Sharma, head PCG & capital markets strategy, HDFC Securities.
Mr Sharma further said the bias for the rupee remains bullish following foreign fund flows and more flows are lined up by a couple of overseas companies.
Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.86 per cent to $71.11 per barrel.
Further lifting market sentiment, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) put in Rs 476.51 crore on a net basis Thursday, provisional data showed.
Benchmark equity indices ended marginally higher Thursday as voting began in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections. The 30-share BSE Sensex inched up 21.66 points, or 0.06 per cent, to close at 38,607.01. The broader NSE Nifty settled 12.40 points, or 0.11 per cent, higher at 11,596.70.
Meanwhile, the Financial Benchmark India Private Ltd (FBIL) set the reference rate for the rupee/dollar at 68.9742 and for rupee/euro at 77.7942. The reference rate for rupee/British pound was fixed at 90.2762 and for rupee/100 Japanese yen at 62.07.