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Rand inches firmer on US stimulus hopes

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2030 was 2 basis points higher at 9.555%.
Image: Shutterstock

The rand inched firmer in tentative trade on Thursday as renewed hope for more US stimulus soothed investor sentiment toward riskier currencies.

The rand traded at R16.63 versus the dollar at 1540 GMT, 0.3% firmer than its previous close.

“There has been a tentative improvement in risk appetite overnight after US President Trump posted a number of tweets suggesting he was once again open to piecemeal fiscal stimulus measures,” said economists at ETM Analytics in a note.

US President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look set to pursue a stimulus package for the airline industry, though Trump halted cross-party talks for a bigger plan.

With no big-ticket data releases locally, the focus remains on government discussions on an economic recovery plan ahead of the medium-term budget later this month.

Monetary authorities again put the onus on the treasury to stimulate the economy. After slicing lending rates to record lows in a slew of cuts since March when the novel coronavirus hit, the central bank kept rates steady in September.

That shielded the rand from extending losses seen in the last few weeks by maintaining the high yield, or carry.

On Wednesday a deputy governor at the central bank reiterated that the regulator had done as much as it could, and would likely keep rates steady in the near-term.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2030 was 2 basis points higher at 9.555%.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) had a choppy day as the prospect of slow economic recovery in Africa weighed on the markets, while US stimulus hopes led to some paring of losses.

The All-Share index fell 0.36% to 54,555 points. The blue-chip Top 40 index slipped 0.56% to 50,131 points. The banks index led the slide, down almost 2%.

Consumer staples and gold miners however bucked the trend.

Pick n Pay Stores, the country’s no.2 supermarket chain, rose 9%, while Dis-Chem climbed 4.5%.

The gold miners’ index ended over 2% higher.

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