JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand retreated from three-month highs against the dollar in late Johannesburg trade on Wednesday, falling nearly 1 percent in a correction after strong gains in the past month.
Government bonds edged higher on the first trading day of 2013, as more traders returned from holidays to a market starved of supply after the Treasury suspended weekly auctions until Jan. 8.
The yield on the heavily traded 14-year benchmark fell 3.5 basis points to 7.245 percent and that for the three-year issue dipped 1 basis point to 5.325 percent.
The rand pulled back from a session high of 8.42/dollar, its strongest level since Oct. 4, and was at 8.5125 by 1511 GMT, down 0.74 percent from its previous close at 8.45.
The rand fell despite the dollar's broad losses after lawmakers approved a deal to avert huge tax rises and spending cuts in the United States, boosting appetite for high-yielding but riskier assets which had waned on worries of a recession.
"It could just simply be a pull-back from the strong performance we've seen over the past month," said Sean McCalgan, a market analyst at ETM, adding the rand could attempt another rally towards 8.45 in coming days.
"Definitely given how strong these markets are, I would expect to see some carry trade flow coming back to work in favour of the rand," McCalgan said.
The South African currency shed more than 5 percent of its value against the dollar in 2012, one of the weakest performances in a basket of 20 emerging market currencies monitored by Reuters.
But towards year-end it recovered some ground, rallying from November's 3-1/2 year low of 9.01 as production in the country's mines returned to near normalcy after wildcat strikes which had hit output and investor sentiment.
Investors' nerves have also been calmed after the ruling ANC ended a conference last month without announcing any drastic policy changes while electing respected businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy to the party's leader, President Jacob Zuma.
Center>Copyright Reuters, 2013