MUMBAI (Reuters) - The Indian rupee fell to an all-time low on Tuesday as oil refiners and other companies scrambled to buy dollars, with the currency looking increasingly vulnerable to a swelling current account deficit and fears over the global economy and euro zone. Exposure to short-term portfolio flows, a rising oil import bill and worsening government finances have heightened the risk for the rupee, Asias worst-performing currency this year, and the outlook remains bearish. The rupee has skidded nearly 17 per cent from a 2011 high reached in late July as risk-averse investors flee emerging markets. , increasing the difficulties for a government already struggling with high inflation, slowing economic growth and a widening trade gap. The failure of a US super committee to reach a deal on debt restructuring could trigger another major round of selling of emerging market and risky assets. The rupee closed 0.3 per cent lower at 52.2950/3050 per dollar, after touching an all-time low of 52.73. At this point in time, the options for the RBI and the government are really limited. The movement in the rupee is dictated more by macro fundamentals rather than speculation, said N. Bhanumurthy, economist with National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi. I will not be surprised if the rupee breaches the 53 level and stays there for some time. I dont see a pullback till external macro conditions change. The falling rupee, combined with slowing growth, has added to a sense of urgency for a scandal-tainted government to push reforms to encourage investment. The government has already raised ownership limits on government and corporate bonds and is considering allowing international retail investors direct access to Indian stocks , which have slumped about 22 per cent so far this year. Foreign funds have sold more than $500 million worth of shares over the last five trading sessions till Monday, reducing the net inflows in 2011 to under $300 million, sharply below record inflows of more than $29 billion seen in 2010. Indias external position has become increasingly vulnerable to global risk appetite. Further weakness cannot be ruled out, Royal Bank of Scotland said in a research note. The rupee is down 14.5 per cent on the year, with the closest loser among other Asian units being the Thai baht, which has shed just 3.2 per cent, followed by the Malaysian ringgit that is down 3 per cent. IS THE BOTTOM FALLING OUT? The three-month offshore non-deliverable forward contracts were quoted at 53.26, sharply below the onshore spot rate, suggesting a depreciation of another 1.8 per cent from current levels. One NDF trader said the breach of the previous record low of 52.20 low had caused nervousness and people were seeing this as a vicious circle with everyone including oil importers jumping in. Oil accounts for about a third of Indias total imports. Indias current account deficit is expected to be around 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the current fiscal year, compared with 2.7 per cent a year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which usually intervenes to curb excess volatility, has been reluctant to step in and support the beleaguered currency, adding to a sense that the falling rupee may be a one-way bet. RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao said on Tuesday he could not comment on whether the bank was intervening in the foreign exchange market to stem the rupees slide, but it was watching the situation and would ensure the exchange rate does not impair economic stability. We expect that a reverse adjustment (in the rupee) will take place when the European situation resolves itself, Subbarao said. Subir Gokarn, a deputy governor at the central bank, had said last week the RBI would be careful about using foreign exchange reserves aggressively to protect the rupees depreciation.. That view was echoed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday, who blamed the fall on the international market and said that central bank intervention would have a limited effect. We expect there will be a self correction in the market, Mukherjee told reporters, without elaborating. The central bank was suspected of selling dollars at around 51.79 on Monday, but the selling pressure on the rupee was too strong, traders said. The RBIs efforts to cut the excessive one-way move have been futile, said J. Moses Harding, head of the asset liability committee, and market and economic research at IndusInd Bank. There is not a single factor to bring the rupee bulls into the street who were in total control till July. But some analysts echoed Mukherjees view that the rupee could recover. I think INR has the potential to depreciate to 54 in the short term but in the meantime RBI may smooth the depreciation, said Sebastian Barbe, head of emerging FX and fixed income strategy at Credit Agricole, in Paris. But given Indias strong underlying story Im confident that once the financial markets backdrop improves, the rupee can recover. a