The rand weakened on Wednesday as risk demand in global markets was soured by an escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan, prompting investors to flee into safe haven assets.
At 1520 GMT the rand was down 0.58% at R13.92 per dollar compared to an overnight close of R13.84, with most of the losses coming as New York traders came online after a subdued start to the local session.
Nuclear powers India and Pakistan claimed that they shot down each other’s fighter jets, with Pakistan capturing an Indian pilot a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war.
The dollar gained from risk aversion and recovered from three-week lows, while traditional safe havens such as the Swiss franc and Japan’s yen as well as gold also rose.
“The rand wasn’t that volatile, its been moving in a 10 cents range, and it seems as if we’re still in a post-budget hangover with investors looking for the next catalyst,” said TreasuryOne trader Andre Botha.
The rand had advanced around one percent since last week’s budget where Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced a R69 billion bailout for ailing utility Eskom, but the currency has treaded water in the past few sessions.
Bonds edged weaker, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 adding 1 basis point to 8.67%.
In the equities market, Tradehold helped lift stocks, topping the bourse after it said it had been approached by a private property investor to invest R833 million ($59.77 million) directly into its portfolio of South African property assets and R200 million into Tradehold.
Shares in Tradehold jumped 13.19% to R11.50, its biggest daily gain in seven and a half weeks.
Shares in Africa’s biggest pay-TV group MultiChoice leapt around 15% on its market debut earlier, launching the firm straight into the top 40 firms on the bourse.
MultiChoice, a spin-off from e-commerce giant Naspers , stood at 106.01%, 11% than its opening price of R95.50.
Portfolio Managers at asset management firm Vestact said in a note that Multichoice shares jumped as the market tried to figure out what it was worth.
“It will probably be volatile for a few more days as the big players either build a position or sell off their current holding,” the Vestact team said in a statement.
The Johannesburg All-share index inched up 0.1% to 56,297 points, while the Top 40 index was little unchanged at 49,955 points.