Rand in relief rally after Fed holds rates

The stock market volatility index has jumped more than 30% over the past four weeks.

South Africa’s rand firmed on Friday after US interest rates were left unchanged, but stocks were knocked by fears over weak global economic growth, ending 1% lower.

The rand traded 0.6% stronger to the US dollar to 13.3284 by 04h20 on Saturday, having earlier reached more than a three week high of 13.26.

“Most policymakers threw in a forecast that rates will go up this year, which is basically a postponement of two months or so. I think the market took that in,” said Bart Stemmet an economist at NKC African Economics.

Equities across the world retreated after the US central bank cited weakening global growth as among the reasons for not raising interest rates.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 index dropped 1.1% to 45,616, breaking a four-day winning streak and failing to hold on to earlier gains after rising to as high as 46,140 following the US rate decision.

The broader All-share index lost 1% to 51,044.

The stock market volatility index, commonly known as the “fear index”, has jumped more than 30% over the past four weeks on concerns of a China-led global economic slowdown and uncertainty over the timing of the US rate decision.

Mining shares weighed on the index as commodity prices such as crude oil and copper declined. Sasol ended down 3.25%.

Anglo American retreated 1.7% and rival BHP Billiton fell 0.65%.

Yields on government bonds weakened, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 16.5 basis points to 8.335%.

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