The rupee, on Thursday, fell for the first time in four sessions and lost 37 paise to close at a more than three-week low against the dollar on month-end demand for the U.S. currency from importers and banks.

A slowdown in capital inflows on account of the Christmas holiday also weighed in on the rupee, a forex dealer said.

At the inter-bank foreign exchange market, the rupee opened lower at 61.85 a dollar, also the day’s high, from the previous close of 61.79.

It declined to a low of 62.17 before ending at 62.16, a fall of 37 paise or 0.60 per cent. In the previous three sessions, the rupee had risen by 35 paise.

The Indian currency is at the lowest level since closing at 62.36 on December 3.

Dealers attributed the fall in rupee to dollar demand from importers, mainly oil refiners, to meet month-end requirements

“After witnessing gains for the last three consecutive sessions, rupee was seen erasing the gains and weakening against the dollar,” said Abhishek Goenka, CEO of India Forex Advisors.

Sensex up 42 points

The benchmark Sensex ended 42 points higher on Thursday, the last day of equity derivative contracts, led by HDFC Bank, Infosys and ONGC. The initial trading trend was firm after a rally in Asian stocks, although the lack of any major trigger amid the Christmas break kept the market within a tight range, a broker said.

The 30-share S&P BSE Sensex opened higher and traded in a narrow, positive range until the afternoon.

The index then moved erratically on alternate bouts of buying and selling, touching the day’s high of 21135.85.

Futures contracts expire on the last Thursday of every month.

The Sensex closed at 21074.59, a gain of 41.88 points or 0.20 per cent.

The broader, 50-share CNX Nifty on the National Stock Exchange rose 10.50 points to 6278.90. HDFC Bank, Infosys and ONGC together lifted the Sensex by about 59 points, while Reliance Industries and TCS dragged it lower. Power shares led nine of the 12 BSE sectoral indices higher.

The absence of foreign funds from the market due to year-end holidays affected trading volumes, brokers said. — PTI