By Krishna Kumar and Savio Shetty
MUMBAI (Reuters) - After hitting a record low of 68.85 to the dollar last week, there are signs that the beleaguered Indian rupee may have entered a period of relative calm. Technical analysis certainly suggests so.
Raghuram Rajan's debut on Wednesday as the new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor was well-received and he immediately unveiled a slew of proposals to support the rupee.
This has raised hopes that the RBI will now adopt a new approach to defending the rupee, as the extent to which it's defense strategy has worked so far is hotly debated.
While the RBI has been intervening heavily in both spot and forward markets to support the currency, especially when it nears its record lows, there are technical signs that the rupee is set for some near-term consolidation.
The Fibonacci Retracement, a widely used technical tool that charts and predicts patterns in currency movements, signals an eventual move for the rupee to as high as 63 levels from current 66 levels.
Meanwhile, the number of open contracts in domestic rupee futures has slumped this month, which is a sign that traders are removing their short positions in the currency.
"The rupee is still in a precarious position but it has been sold off a lot and that means further currency weakness will be capped," Barclays strategist Hamish Pepper said.
Fundamentally, Pepper said the rupee was undervalued 21 percent against the dollar, among the biggest gaps among emerging market currencies.
In his first day as governor, Rajan unexpectedly announced several measures to support the rupee and open up markets, providing a shot of confidence for investors unnerved by the country's worst economic crisis in two decades.
The rupee surged 1.6 percent on Thursday, its biggest gain in a week, and rose a further 0.8 percent to 65.5 on Friday.
It is now facing a short-term target of 65.56 to 65.26 and a medium-term target of 63.05-15, according to the Fibonacci retracement. (http://link.reuters.com/tup82v)
Charts also show the rupee experienced a gap between the close of Friday, August 16 and the open the following Monday of 62.35. That gap has yet to be filled, indicating the rupee could eventually close it by falling to 62.03/22.
Although some traders are bracing for currency volatility ahead of the U.S. monthly employment data due later in the day, traders have nonetheless removed some of their short positions in rupee futures contracts in the National Stock Exchange.
The so-called open interest futures positions has dropped from a peak of almost 1.2 million contracts on August 19 to 826,000 contracts as of Thursday, the day after Rajan's debut. (http://link.reuters.com/fyp82v)
Traders monitor the amount of open contracts as a way to gauge the number of short positions.
A Reuters poll on Friday indicated the rupee has likely bottomed out after its 20 percent plunge this year, but is not expected to regain much ground over the coming year.
(Additional reporting by Suvashree Dey Choudhury in MUMBAI; Writing by Rafael Nam; Editing by Kim Coghill)