The rupee appreciated 32 paise to 80.98 against the US dollar in early trade on Thursday on a broad dollar weakness after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the pace of interest rate hikes may slow.

At the interbank foreign exchange, the domestic unit opened at 81.08 against the dollar, then gained further ground to touch 80.98, registering a rise of 32 paise over its previous close.

On Wednesday, the rupee rose by 42 paise to close at 81.30 against the US dollar, on month-end exporter dollar selling and MSCI rebalancing related inflows.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.27 per cent to 105.66.

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Fed Chair Powell in his speech on Wednesday gave a clear indication that the Fed would slow down its pace of rate hikes and increase rates by 50 basis points in the December policy.

Overall, the speech can be said to be leaning towards moderation in hawkishness going forward and this has brought a great sense of comfort to markets, IFA Global Research Academy said in a research note.

"Rupee has strengthened offshore post Powell's speech. It is likely in a range of 80.90-81.30 with appreciation bias," the note added.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, advanced 2.89 per cent to $85.43 per barrel.

In the domestic equity market, the 30-share BSE Sensex was trading 432.09 points or 0.68 per cent higher at 63,531.74. The broader NSE Nifty rose 118.15 points or 0.63 per cent to 18,876.50.

Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) were net buyers in the capital markets on Wednesday as they purchased shares worth Rs 9,010.41 crore, according to exchange data.