Rupee tad weaker as US data stokes Fed hike bets

 The Indian rupee weakened marginally on Monday as Asian currencies were tepid after U.S. payrolls data bolstered the case for further rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The rupee was trading at 81.93 per dollar by 10:55 a.m. IST, compared with its previous close of 81.8850.

Traders cited likely corporate inflows that took the currency to 81.78 in early morning trade with possible dollar bids from oil importers weakening it later to keep the rupee range-bound.

"USD/INR is expected to trade towards the level of 82.20 as long as it sustains above the key support level of 81.90," ICICI Securities analysts wrote in a note.

In broader markets, the Chinese yuan and the South Korean won fell as the dollar index extended gains following robust labour data that pushed up bets of a Fed rate increase next month.

Futures showed the possibility of a 25 basis point (bps) rate hike rising to 70%.

U.S. yields responded, with 2-year yield rising 12 bps to 3.9431%.

"Fed relief, based on bets that the Fed will have to stop hiking far sooner and reverse course sharply in the second half, is now somewhat more fraught," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a note.

The U.S. inflation data is due this Wednesday and would be helpful in determining the Fed's policy path.

Economists polled by Reuters expect a 0.3% month-on-month increase in the CPI and a 0.4% rise in core CPI.

Risk sentiment held up fairly well as Asian shares broadly rose, with Indian equities up 0.20%.

Foreign investors have been net buyers of local stocks worth about $226 million over the past week, possibly supporting the rupee that has risen for three straight weeks.