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 MUMBAI: The Indian rupee weakened on Monday weighed by brisk dollar demand from oil and gold importers and negative local shares, and traders expect the local unit to stay range-bound in the near-term on good two-way flows.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 44.4850/4950 per dollar against its 44.365/375 previous close, after moving in a 44.4375-44.5425 range intra-day.

"Broadly, in the week's range, it could be about 44.20-44.60 per dollar. There are good two-way flows in the market," said Rohan Naik, head of foreign exchange trading at Standard Chartered Bank in Mumbai.

Local gold traders bought the metal at record prices to stock up before the gold-buying festival in the world's biggest market for the metal and the wedding season, expected to extend until May.

Oil is India's biggest import item and domestic oil firms are the largest purchasers of dollars in the local forex market.

Oil rose above $124 a barrel on Monday, pushed higher by an escalation of violence in the oil-producing Middle East and post-election unrest in OPEC member Nigeria.

Indian shares shed 0.1 percent , snapping a three-session rally, as lower-than-expected earnings from Reliance Industries overshadowed the central bank's move to ease provisioning norms and strong results from other firms.

The one-month onshore forward premium was at 26.25 basis points (bps) versus 26 at last close. The three-month was at 83.00 bps versus 83.50 and the one-year was at 318.75 bps compared with 318.50.

The one-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were quoted at 44.76, weaker than the onshore spot rate.

In the currency futures market , the most traded near-month dollar-rupee contracts on the National Stock Exchange, the United Stock Exchange and the MCX-SX were at 44.5175, 44.5200 and 44.5075 respectively, with total volume at $10.04 billion.

Copyright Reuters, 2011

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