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Markets

South African rand recovers from two-month low, stocks fall first time in 2021

  • Emerging market assets have been under pressure in the last week from continued dollar strength and U.S. higher yields, which are seen as a negative.
13 Jan 2021

JOHANNESBURG: The South African rand recovered on Tuesday, bouncing off a two-month low hit in the last session, as a recent rally in the dollar cooled.

At 1510 GMT, the rand traded at 15.3975 versus the dollar, 0.85pc firmer than its previous close.

The currency has tumbled more than 5pc since the beginning of 2021.

Emerging market assets have been under pressure in the last week from continued dollar strength and U.S. higher yields, which are seen as a negative.

Sentiment also soured badly over a new peak in daily coronavirus infections and doubts over South Africa's vaccine supplies.

"This afternoon, the rand has pierced the R15.40/USD level, ignoring the announced essential lack of change in South Africa's lockdown restrictions last night, and instead attempting to move stronger as global risk aversion wanes somewhat," Annabel Bishop of Investec said in a note.

President Cyril Ramaphosa late on Monday said that the country had secured 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which would be delivered mainly in the first half of the year.

South Africa has recorded more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 33,000 deaths, the most on the African continent, but is yet to start its vaccination drive.

Ramaphosa, however, said the cabinet had decided to maintain "level 3" lockdown restrictions, with relatively minor tweaks.

Stocks on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) reversed some gains in the first fall since the beginning of the year, as rising coronavirus cases and the continued lockdown hurt sentiment.

The benchmark FTSE/JSE all-share index dropped 0.35pc to end the day at 63,535 points, while the bluechip FTSE/JSE top 40 companies index ended down 0.38pc to 58,493 points.

Government bonds firmed, with the yield on the 2030, instrument 2.5 basis points lower at 8.810pc.