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Rand weakens as consumer confidence declines, stocks down

Rand weakens as consumers pessimistic on economic outlook.

The rand slipped to a three-week low on Wednesday as the consumer confidence index showed a decline in the first quarter of 2019, while stocks also weakened.

At 1500 GMT the rand traded at R14.40 to the dollar, a 1.03% retreat from its New York close on Tuesday.

Investor appetite for the dollar strengthened as economic data showed sales of single-family homes jumped to a near one and a half year high in March.

Consumer confidence dipped in the first quarter of 2019 to +2 from +7 in the final quarter of 2018. Consumers were neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the outlook two weeks ahead of a national election seen as a referendum on the economy.

“The consumer confidence number was very disappointing. Consumers are not confident, they don’t have money, the cost of living is rising. That had a negative impact on sentiment towards the currency,” said Maudi Lentsoane, portfolio manager at Lehumo Investments.

In government bonds, the yield on the benchmark issue due in 2026 rose 2 basis points to 8.57%.

The bourse ended lower on Thursday, snapping a four-day winning streak as traders followed in the footsteps of other emerging markets.

The benchmark JSE Top 40 index ended 0.74% down at 52,785 while the broader All-share index slipped by almost the same margin to 59,102.

“It’s a rotation away from emerging markets into developed markets. Emerging markets have fallen out of favour,” said Greg Davies, a trader at Cratos Capital. 

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