Despite government efforts to slow the fall and interventions from the central bank in recent weeks, the rupee slid past its previous low of 59.98 against the dollar, struck last week.
In evening trade, the partially-convertible Indian currency hit a new record low of 60.76, before finally ending Indian trading at 60.72, down 1.88 percent intraday from an opening level of 59.60.
“What we saw on the screens was really bad. No level was holding,” said Naveen Mathur from Mumbai’s Angel Broking.
Dealers said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may have intervened several times in recent days, particularly on Wednesday as the rupee inched closer to the 60 mark.
Asian currencies, including the Indian rupee, have been falling against the strengthening dollar as the US Federal Reserve looks set to scale back its stimulus plans as the US economy recovers.
The stimulus, which has seen the US central bank buy billions of dollars of assets to increase the money supply, had fuelled investment flows into emerging markets.
“Foreign investors have taken a view to get out of emerging markets,” said Sonam Udasi, head of research with IDBI Capital.
The rupee has also been hard hit by concerns about India’s economy — Asia’s third largest — which is growing at a decade-low rate of 5.0 percent amid worsening public finances.
The Indian currency, which after today’s slide has fallen 10.8 percent in 2013, is the worst performing currency amongst major Asian countries.
Its tumble raises import prices of everything from oil and fertilisers to food staples such as pulses, stoking already high consumer inflation and causing hardship for India’s poor millions.
Weak local share markets have put additional pressure on the rupee as overseas funds sell Indian stocks.
Foreign investors have become net sellers of Indian equities, selling $1.39 billion on balance in June after buying stock worth $4 billion in May, regulatory data shows.
They have also pulled out $4.8 billion from India’s debt markets in June, partly to take advantage of US yields.
India’s government has insisted it is “not short of action” to protect the rupee, but it has been unable to prevent the slide.
“This is a worrying sign. If not controlled, it (the rupee’s fall) will have a deeper impact on the economy,” said Mathur.
Analysts say the RBI cannot intervene heavily to buttress the currency as it must retain enough foreign reserves for imports. It currently only has sufficient reserves for seven months of imports — the lowest cover in 13 years.
The RBI has a policy of not commenting on movements in the foreign exchange market and of intervening only to curb volatility.
Indian shares closed down 0.41 percent or 77.03 points at 18,552.12 after the 60 mark was breached.
The weakening of the rupee will also impact India’s current account deficit — the broadest trade measure — which ballooned to just under five percent of gross domestic product in the last financial year.
Economists say the scope for further interest rates cuts to spur India’s growth will be difficult if the rupee weakens further.