By P.R. Venkat
India's central bank has relaxed debt-market rules for foreign portfolio investors and allowed commercial banks to raise interest rates on non-residents' foreign-currency deposits in a bid to support the rupee and boost forex reserves.
"The Reserve Bank [of India] has been closely and continuously monitoring the liquidity conditions in the forex market and has stepped in as needed in all its segments to alleviate [U.S.] dollar tightness with the objective of ensuring orderly market functioning," it said late Wednesday.
The RBI said that the measures are aimed at diversifying and expanding the sources of forex funding so as to mitigate volatility and dampen global spillovers.
The rupee has fallen 4.1% against the dollar since the start of the current fiscal year that began in April, the central bank said. The Indian currency fell to a record intraday low of around 79.56 against the dollar on Wednesday, according to FactSet. The rupee was last trading little changed against the greenback at about 79.01 on Thursday.
The central bank said that high risk aversion in financial markets had led to great volatility and selloffs in risk assets.
"As a result, emerging-market economies are facing retrenchment of portfolio flows and persistent downward pressures on their currencies," it said.
Some of the measures include removing the short-term limit on foreign portfolio investors subscribing to government and corporate bonds. Companies will now get automatic approval to raise up to $1.5 billion every financial year, versus the current limit of $750 million.
The central bank said that these measures will enhance "forex inflows while ensuring overall macroeconomic and financial stability."
Barclays analysts said in a note that they think the measures are comprehensive, "but will take time to impact the foreign-currency demand-supply imbalance."
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