Rupee closes at 44.42/43 per USD

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Mumbai, Sep 2 (UNI) The Rupee slid below an eighteen month low to close at 44.42/43 per US Dollar and further depreciated by 25 paise from its previous close of 44.17/18 on strong demand for greenback from bankers and oil companies, though crude oil prices marked a sharp fall today.

The Indian currency extended the loss against the greenback for the second straight day today on concerns over a widening trade deficit. However, traders were wary of the central bank intervening again to curb a further fall, dealers said.

Rupee traded in a wide range band between 44.15 and 44.58 per doalar after opening almost flat in early trade. ''The strong sentiments in local stock market and sharp fall in crude oil price also failed to prevent the downfall of local unit,'' a senior dealer with a leading private sector bank said.

However, the central bank sold dollars both in the spot and forwards markets to prevent the rupee from falling further, he asserted.

India's trade deficit has widened in July to a monthly record of USD 10.8 billion due to a jump in the cost of oil imports from a year ago, weakening sentiment for the rupee, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today fixed the reference rate for US dollar at Rs 44.26 per unit, up by five paise, against the previous day's rate of Rs 44.21 per dollar.

The six-month and annualised forward dollar premium was quoted lower at 2.32 (2.89) per cent and 2.29 (2.60) per cent, respectively.

The Rupee ended the day at 64.39 (64.60/62) per unit against the Euro. It closed at 79.18 (79.64/66) per unit against the Pound Sterling. Rupee ended at 40.52 (40.90/92) per hundred units against the Japanese Yen.

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