Rand weakens in cautious trade, stocks down

Stocks slipped, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s top 40 index down 0.61%.
Image: Shutterstock

The rand weakened against the dollar on Monday, before a week packed with market-moving events.

At 1523 GMT the rand was 0.62% weaker at R13.70 per dollar, as it struggled to hold recent gains below the R13.60 technical resistance mark.

“There are several risk events in the week ahead,so the market is a bit cautious,” said ETM Analytics analyst Jana van Deventer. “We have the Fed meeting on Wednesday evening and we also have got US-China trade talks that are happening Wednesday and Thursday

US policymakers are expected to signal on Wednesday a pause in their interest rate increases and to acknowledge growing risks to the US economy. That will likely weigh on the dollar.

Investors are also waiting for Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s visit to Washington on January 30-31 for the next round of trade negotiations with the United States.

Government bonds weakened, with the yield on the benchmark bond due in 2026 adding 4.5 basis points to 8.765%.

Stocks slipped, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s top 40 index down 0.61% to 47,600 points and the broader all-share index down 0.52% to 53,767 points.

Big banks and retailers led declines on the blue-chip index, with Shoprite, FirstRand, Truworths, Absa and Standard Bank all featuring at the bottom.

Banks and retailers are all sensitive to the health of consumer finances, after a series of poor trading updates from retailers last week.

Clothing and furniture retailer Pepkor, formerly Steinhoff Africa Retail, was down 4.2% after a trading update that showed quarterly revenues rose 6.1% in the three months to end-December. 

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