The rupee firmed up by 17 paise to 61.36 against the dollar in late morning deals today due to selling of the US currency by banks and exporters on the back of its weakness overseas.

The rupee resumed today slightly higher at 61.50 per dollar as against the last closing level of 61.53 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) Market and firmed up further to 61.34 before quoting at 61.36 at 1045 hours.

It moved in a range of 61.34-61.51 per dollar during the morning deals.

Banks and exporters preferred to reduce their dollar position in view of lower dollar in New York market, a forex dealer said.

In New York, the dollar edged down against the yen for the first time in three sessions as investors weighed economic data and remarks from outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

At a Brookings Institution event yesterday, Bernanke said market valuations appear to be within historic ranges and defended the bank’s response to the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the Indian benchmark BSE-30 share index Sensex declined by 66 points or 0.31 per cent to 21,199.22 at 1045 hours.