The rand gained on Thursday on hopes the United States and China could reach an agreement at the G20 summit this week to prevent a further escalation in their trade war.
The rand is highly sensitive to changes in global market sentiment on the trade war as China is South Africa’s largest trading partner, and some investors use the rand as a proxy for emerging market risk.
At 1600 GMT the rand was 0.5% stronger against the US dollar at R14.15 per dollar.
Supporting hopes for a trade war resolution, the South China Morning Post reported, citing sources, that the United States and China had agreed to a tentative truce ahead of the meeting between China’s Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump.
Trump said on Wednesday that a deal with Xi was possible this weekend, but that he was prepared to impose US tariffs on virtually all remaining Chinese imports if the two countries continue to disagree.
On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), emerging market risk appetite failed to lift local stocks as resource firms led by Glencore weakened.
Glencore was the second-biggest decliner on the All-Share Index, tumbling 8.30% to R46.10, after a copper mine it owns collapsed in southeast Congo, killing at least 36 illegal miners. It was Glencore’s worst daily fall on the JSE since July 2018.
The benchmark Top 40 Index weakened 0.67% to 52,056 points.
Concerns about weak economic growth also weighed on sentiment on the JSE after South African Reserve Bank data showed the country’s business cycle has been in a downward phase since December 2013.
“South Africa’s macro recovery in the very near 6 to 12 months could weaken more, which is likely to have implications for the ZAR (rand) and demand on domestic stocks,” said Avior Capital Markets analyst Ayan Ghosh.