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KARACHI: The rupee’s great fall continued as it lost a further 4.6% in the inter-bank market during the previous week, bringing total depreciation to 14.5% during July.

This made it the worst monthly performance for the currency against the US dollar in over 50 years, raising serious questions on Pakistan’s economic trajectory in the face of several headwinds including low foreign exchange reserves, high imports, speculation, and the government’s reported inability to intervene in the forex market.

Along with pressures on the economic front, rising political noise also added to the strain on the rupee as it seemed to have put the reforms’ agenda on the backseat.

While the rupee ended a 10-session losing streak on Friday, gaining a marginal 0.24% to end at 239.37 at close, importers repeatedly stated that letters of credit have been opened at rates much higher than the prevailing inter-bank rate with a ‘premium’ being charged due to shortage of dollars.

During the week, Pakistan reported a further fall in foreign exchange reserves with the level held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) declining a further $754 million to reach $8.58 billion.

On Thursday, S&P Global Ratings also revised the outlook on Pakistan’s long-term ratings to negative from stable to reflect the country’s weakening external metrics against a backdrop of higher commodity prices, tighter global financial conditions, and a weakening rupee.

The country also reported a current account deficit of $2.275 billion for the month of June 2022.

Amid the prevalent economic turbulence, Pakistan’s economic policymakers are scrambling to ensure dollar-inflows from ‘friendly countries’ and even looking to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for early disbursement of its loan of roughly $1.2 billion.

With SBP’s reserves now at much less than two months of import cover, the rupee is likely to take direction from tangible developments that result in dollar-inflows.

Additionally, spread between the inter-bank and open-market rates also became more profound as the week progressed, rising to at least a difference of Rs6 on Friday.

Open-market rates

In the open market, the PKR lost18 rupees for both buying and selling against USD, closing at 246 and 248, respectively.

Against Euro, the PKR lost 21 rupees for buying and 21.50 rupees for selling, closing at 250 and 252.50, respectively.

Against UAE Dirham, the PKR lost 5.80 rupees for buying and 5.70 rupees for selling, closing at 66.80 and 67.30, respectively.

Against Saudi Riyal, the PKR lost 5.20 rupees for buying and 5.30 rupees for selling closing, at 64.70 and 65.30, respectively.

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THE RUPEE

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Weekly Interbank market rates for dollar

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Bid Close Rs. 240.00

Offer Close Rs. 242.00

Bid Open Rs. 230.00

Offer Open Rs. 232.00

========================================

Weekly Open market rates for dollar

========================================

Bid Close Rs. 246.00

Offer Close Rs. 248.00

Bid Open Rs. 228.00

Offer Open Rs. 230.00

========================================

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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