The Pakistani rupee fell further against the US Dollar during intraday trade today after opening trade at 279.5.
The Pakistani rupee was bearish during the afternoon with the interbank rate reversing early-day gains to fall as low as 284.98 before rebounding back marginally. Open market rates across multiple currency counters managed between 305-310 while traders expect the exchange rate to observe bearish trends amid the ongoing Hajj season.
The informal exchange rate was trading above 310 to as high as 315 due to the heavy prevalence of informal imports with sellers seeking higher returns over interbank margins.
At close, the PKR depreciated by 0.25 percent and closed at 286.56 after losing 74 paisas today.
Markets were bearish despite early-day gains which saw the PKR lose roughly Rs. 7 against the USD after opening above 280.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves are at a dangerously low level (USD 4.3 billion), and Pakistan is confronted with significant debt repayments until June 2024. Pakistan is also facing severe inflationary pressure, with headline inflation hovering above 28 percent FYTD which could amplify manifold in case of a default event.
Traders today said black imports have driven legitimate sellers into a corner. “Profit seekers are preferring the informal market to sell their goods/services in exchange for higher returns. Border control isn’t helping; smugglers are easily bypassing Customs regulations and their business is thriving while currency counters remain dry. The political situation hasn’t changed either, and everything is working in unison to make PKR fall even further. A default could help balance the scale, albeit temporarily,” one of them contended.
The rupee is down nearly Rs. 60 since January 2023. Since April 2022, it is down over Rs. 107 against the greenback. As per the exchange rate movements witnessed today, the PKR has lost 74 paisas against the dollar today.
According to an extensive report by Arif Habib Limited (AHL), Pakistan faces $5 billion in external debt servicing requirements and a sovereign default is likely, given how support from friendly countries is often tied to the IMF’s tacit approval.
Even in the most optimistic scenario where Pakistan might be able to receive support from bilateral friends (Saudi Arabia, UAE, and China) in the form of both rollovers and fresh funding and also run a balanced current account, the country still faces a shortfall of $5 billion to meet the external debt servicing requirement of $27 billion in FY24, said the report.
The PKR was red against all of the other major currencies in the interbank market today. It lost 39 paisas against the Canadian Dollar (CAD), Rs. 1.57 against the Pound Sterling (GBP), and Rs. 1.64 against the Euro (EUR).
Moreover, it lost nine paisas against the Australian Dollar (AUD), 19 paisas against the Saudi Riyal (SAR), and 20 paisas against the UAE Dirham (AED) in today’s interbank currency market.