RBI can sell upto $30bn to support rupee; may opt for NRI bond

RBI can sell upto $30bn to support rupee; may opt for NRI bond

RBI can sell upto $30bn to support rupee; may opt for NRI bond

In order to arrest rupee depreciation, Reserve Bank has a capacity to sell up to USD 30 billion from the forex reserves and may go for a NRI bond issue to mop-up up to USD 20 billion, foreign brokerage Bank of America Merill Lynch said today.

"We expect the RBI to eventually mobilise USD 20 billion via NRI bonds, a la 1998 Resurgent India Bonds and 2001 India Millennium Deposits, as the sell-off of emerging market debt should constrain the ability of FII debt limit hikes to raise forex reserves," it said, adding that the central bank can sell upto USD 30 billion to support the rupee.

The BofAML report said that five year money can be raised by issuing the 7 to 9 per cent coupon bonds to stabilise markets, just as it was done in 1998 and 2001.

The country's banks had raised USD 4.8 billion and USD 5.5 billion from the bonds targeted at the diaspora during the economic crisis years in 1998 and 2001, respectively.

BofAML said it expects RBI to defend the Rs 60 to a dollar level. The rupee opened 40 paise down against the dollar today and was trading at Rs 59.74 to the dollar at 1437 hrs.

Every round of volatility in the rupee (the current one has been on for over three weeks now) causes a dent of up to USD 15 billion to the forex reserves, and considering where the reserves stand right now, RBI can sell up to USD 30 billion, the report said.

The selling will get the country's import cover down to six months from the current seven months, the BofAML said.

Its strategists expect the rupee to peak at Rs 59 to a dollar, according to the report.

RBI will start buying rupee once markets stabilise and the inflows from Unilver buy back, which would be in the region between USD 3 billion and USD 5 billion, happen,  it said.

Raising the rates is not the answer to arrest the fall in rupee, it said, noting that the differential between the USD Federal Reserve's lending rate and the RBI's is already at a peak of 7 per cent.