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Markets

South Africa rand starts year on firmer footing

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand was slightly firmer against the dollar on the second trading day of the year on Tuesda
03 Jan 2012

south_africa_randJOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand was slightly firmer against the dollar on the second trading day of the year on Tuesday and should stay largely rangebound as market players drift slowly back after the Christmas and New Year breaks.

Local traders returned to the market on Tuesday after local exchanges were closed for a post New Year public holiday in South Africa on Monday.

By 0639 GMT the local currency was up 0.28 percent on the day at 8.0520 to the dollar compared with Monday's close at 8.0750.

"The rand is slightly higher, we did see it testing the lows of the day, but it's still thin liquidity at the moment, so it's going to be quite difficult," RMB trader Lee Naisbitt said.

"I think for now we're still in a range. If we manage to get through 8.03 we should target a bit lower ( a firmer rand). But to start off the day we're looking at 8.03-8.08. It's gonna be quite erratic and pretty rangebound this week."

The rand, a very liquid currency, plunged nearly 22 percent against the dollar in 2011, one of the steepest falls globally, taking the brunt of an emerging market asset sell-off as investors worried about the effects of a debt crisis in the euro zone.

On Tuesday the rand took its cue from Europe's common currency, which edged higher against the dollar and the yen but looked set to remain under pressure in 2012.

Government debt was flat as the Johannesburg bond exchange resumed trade for the year, with the heavily traded 2015 issue unchanged from its Dec. 30 close of 6.73 percent, as was the longer dated 2026 bond at 8.485 percent.

South African high-yielding bonds held up well despite last year's global flight from higher-risk assets, with net foreign inflows in 2011 reaching about 48 billion rand, according to data from the local exchange.

Copyright Reuters, 2011