Petrol sales dropped 16.37 per cent to 2.15 million tonnes as the 21-day nationwide lockdown enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 took most cars and two-wheelers off the road. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
India's fuel consumption in March shrank by 18 per cent, the biggest decline in more than a decade, as a nationwide lockdown halted economic activity and travel. India's petroleum product consumption fell 17.79 per cent to 16.08 million tonnes in March as diesel, petrol and aviation turbine fuel (ATF) demand fell, according to official data released on Thursday.Diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, saw demand contract by 24.23 per cent to 5.65 million tonnes.
This is the biggest fall in diesel consumption the country has recorded as most trucks went off-road and railways stopped plying trains. Petrol sales dropped 16.37 per cent to 2.15 million tonnes as the 21-day nationwide lockdown enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 took most cars and two-wheelers off the road.
Meanwhile, the Indian rupee settled 6 paise higher at 76.28 (provisional) against the US dollar on Thursday tracking higher equities. The local unit had settled at an all-time low of 76.34 against the greenback on Wednesday. Forex traders said the rupee traded in a narrow range as higher opening in domestic equities supported the local unit while concerns over coronavirus outbreak weighed on the local unit.
At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened at 76.11, but witnessed heavy volatility and touched a low of 76.55 against the American currency. The domestic unit finally settled at 76.28 against the greenback, up 6 paise over its previous close. Traders said concerns over the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the domestic as well as the global economy continued to haunt investors. There are more than 15.18 lakh declared cases of coronavirus worldwide.
In India, the tally of confirmed coronavirus cases has crossed the 5,700-mark. "Uncertainty and fragile market sentiments over COVID-19 will continue to keep the rupee under pressure. Further pressure will come from the uptick in crude and surge in the dollar index," said Rahul Gupta, Head of Research- Currency, Emkay Global Financial Services. Gupta further said, "also, OTC timings have been trimmed to 10AM-2PM, and it is an illiquid, pessimistic market at this point in time and won't be surprised if 77.50 is breached next week.