• Indian service sector PMI at 41.8 in August vs 34.2 in July
  • This is the longest run of contraction in the sector since April 2014
  • US Dollar (USD) rises ahead of several macros data points including jobless claims and ISM non-manufacturing

The US Dollar Indian Rupee (USD/INR) exchange rate is extending gains for a second straight session on Thursday. The pair settled +0.35% higher on Tuesday at 73.26. At 11:00 UTC, USD/INR trades +0.3% at 73.51.

The Indian Rupee in under pressure after data showed that the service sector in Indian continued to struggle as lockdown restrictions continued to hit businesses. The Nikkei/ IHS Markit Services PMI actually increased to 41.8 in August, up from July’s 34.2. However, it remained well below the 50 level which separates expansion from contraction.

August was the 6th straight month that the PMI was below 50. This means that activity in the service sector contracted for a sixth straight month. This is the longest stretch of contraction in the sector since April 2014, as lockdown restrictions in foreign and domestic markets weigh on the industry.

The government said it intends to reopen the underground train networks in an attempt to revive the economy, even as coronavirus cases soar exponentially. Sports events and religious events will also be permitted in a limited manner. Covid cases are rising at a rate of over 78,000 new infections daily.

Demand for the US Dollar remains elevated across the board as investors await a number of data releases, including ISM non-manufacturing PMI, jobless claims figures and challenger job cuts data. The focus will be firmly on the US labour market ahead of the release of tomorrow’s non-farm payroll and after the ADP private payrolls report disappointed in the previous session. 428,000 new hires in the private sector were announced, versus 950,000 expected.

Initial jobless claims are expected to increase by 950,000. This would only mark the second time that claims has fallen below 1 million since the start of the pandemic.

The ISM non-manufacturing report is expected to decline to 57, down from 58.1. Investors will be looking closely at the employment component of the report, which is expected to decline, building on the chances that Friday’s jobs report will be disappointing.