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Rand steady shielded by trade deal optimism

Sino-US trade talks help the rand weather stronger employment numbers from the US.

South Africa’s rand was barely changed in late trade on Friday, with fresh optimism over Sino-US trade talks helping the currency to weather stronger employment numbers from the United States.

At 1530 GMT, the rand edged 0.07% firmer at 14.64, improving from session’s low of 14.69 on Thursday following a batch of lukewarm economic indicators sapped demand.

Sentiment towards emerging market currencies was boosted after US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that trade talks are “moving right along,” despite Beijing maintaining its stance that some existing tariffs must come off as part of an interim agreement.

That helped limit an expected souring of risk demand after job growth in the US increased by the most in 10 months in November, the strongest sign yet the economy was not in danger of stalling, and that the central bank might consider not easing rates.

On the bourse, stocks rose alongside global shares on the back of the trade deal optimism.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 Index was up 0.98% to 49 065.21 points while the broader All-Share Index rose 1.05% to 55 357.33 points.

“What has really just gave us a boost right now was nonfarm payroll number out of the US,” said Nilan Morar, trader at GT247.

US stocks were set to open higher after data showed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 266 000 jobs last night, higher than the 180 000 additions predicted by economists.

“You’ve got US up about two thirds a percent, you’ve got Europe up about a third of a percent on average and we’re following suit as well,” Morar added.

Mining heavyweights Anglo American rose 2.73% to R398.56 while retail-led healthcare company Clicks were up 2.48% to R256.66.

South Africa’s struggling state power utility Eskom said “stage 4” power cuts on Friday until(0700 GMT) until 6 am (0400 GMT) on Saturday.

Stage 4 involves throttling up 4 000 megawatts (MW) of power from the national grid on a rotational basis.

Bonds were steady with the yield on the benchmark 10-year government issue at 8.425%. 

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