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Rupee ends at record closing low, likely RBI intervention helps cap losses

A customer counts money before paying a vegetable vendor at a market in Mumbai

By Jaspreet Kalra

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The Indian rupee fell to its weakest closing level on record, pressured by dollar demand from importers, while likely intervention from the Reserve Bank of India helped curb the local unit's losses.

The rupee ended at 83.4375 against the U.S. dollar, marginally weaker than its close of 83.4350 in the previous session. The local unit fell to a record low of 83.4550 earlier in the session, likely prompting the RBI to intervene.

State-run banks stepped in to sell dollars, likely on behalf of the RBI, when the rupee weakened past its previous historical low of 83.45, five traders said.

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Elevated crude oil prices amid growing concerns about geopolitical disruptions to supply chains have also pressured the rupee in recent trading sessions.

Brent crude oil futures have risen 2% over April so far, touching a peak of $89.99 per barrel on Wednesday before edging lower.

The bias on the rupee tilts towards mild depreciation and an uptick beyond 83.20 seems quite unlikely in the near term, Gaurang Somaiya, a foreign exchange research analyst at Motilal Oswal Financial Services said.

The dollar index was lower by 0.1% to 104.1, extending its losses from Wednesday, while most Asian currencies rose with the Malaysian ringgit up 0.3% and leading gains.

"Should U.S. data prove benign enough to allow the Federal Reserve to cut rates, the dollar should sell off," ING Bank stated in an April 4 note.

Investors now await initial jobless claims data from the U.S. and remarks from Fed officials scheduled to speak later in the day.

Policymakers, including Fed chief Jerome Powell, have continued to emphasise the need for more debate and data before interest rates are cut, as signalled in their remarks on Wednesday.

Odds of the Fed keeping rates unchanged in June have inched up to 41.5%, up from about 38% a day earlier, according to CME's FedWatch tool.

(Reporting by Jaspreet Kalra; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)