JP Morgan: India's economy still has an upside — even if the rupee has plunged

  • The Indian rupee weakened to record lows this year, but it is boosting export competitiveness for the country, said Kalpana Morparia, CEO of J.P. Morgan's South and South East Asia business.
  • Corporate profits have also jumped this year and is set to continue increasing next year, he said at the India Investor Summit.
  • Experts have attributed India's currency depreciation to rising oil prices, a widening current account deficit, and broader emerging market concerns

The Indian rupee has weakened to record lows this year, but there are still bright spots on the horizon for India's economy, according to the CEO of J.P. Morgan's South and South East Asia business.

The weak currency is boosting export competitiveness for the country, corporate profits are looking good, and the consumption story in India is strong, Kalpana Morparia said at J.P. Morgan's India Investor Summit in New Delhi.

"Yes, the currency has weakened this year … but let's just put this in perspective — it's almost 5 years since the taper tantrum," she said, referring to India being one of the Asian economies that were badly hit by a wave of selloffs in 2013 after the Fed suggested it would start tightening monetary conditions.

"The rupee has depreciated about 12.5 percent, and if you just glance at what's happening to a lot of emerging market currencies, India would squarely be in the middle of the pack," Morparia told CNBC on Thursday.

There are "definite reasons" for the weakening, such as the country being a big oil importer amid rising crude prices, she added.

The rupee hit a series of record lows against the dollar in August and September, weakening past 72 rupees against the greenback this month. That marked a decline of almost 14 percent since the start of this year.

Experts have attributed India's currency depreciation to rising oil prices and a widening current account deficit. They say that broader emerging market concerns — seen in the selloff in emerging currencies following economic troubles in Turkey and Argentina — have also weighed on investor sentiments.

More expensive oil leads to a higher import bill for India, a net importer of oil. It also causes a widening current account deficit — a measure of the flow of goods, services and investments in and out of the country.

However, a weak currency could boost India's competitiveness by making its exports cheaper, and to that end, would help narrow the account deficit.

While the rupee's "sudden move was not expected," Morparia said, "There's a general belief that it's fairly valued, it does give a boost to India's exports."

"I think the policy makers are extremely focused on how we try and boost India's export competitiveness, not only in traditional areas of IT services, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewelry … also surplus in agricultural produce," she added.

Corporate profits have also jumped this year, Morparia said, pointing to growth of between 14 to 20 percent indicated by analysts.

"So if you look at the underlying consumption story in India, that's actually holding up really well," she said.

"I know the macro looks not all that great just now, and I think we are in for a whole lot of volatility this year. But I think the corporate profitability continues to hold quite well, and we see that going into next year," she added.

— CNBC's Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.