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Rare positive data boosts rand, stocks up

Sasol reaps benefit of higher oil price.

The rand strengthened against the dollar on Tuesday after South Africa’s current account deficit narrowed sharply in the second quarter, while stocks edged up on higher global oil prices.

At 23h30 the rand firmed 0.19% to 13.4627 per dollar, after earlier rising to a two-week high, boosted by current account data showing the deficit narrowed for a fourth straight quarter in Q2.

Yields on government bonds fell, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 2.5 basis points to 8.485%.

The JSE Top-40 index gained 0.4% to 43,985 and the broader All-share index was 0.25% higher at 49,491.

“This is a rare piece of positive news for South Africa, and will take some pressure off the rand,” John Ashbourne of research house Capital Economics said.

The rand has suffered in the past quarter, falling over 10% versus the greenback as well as weakening against most major currencies.

Pressure from a slowing domestic economy has compounded broader emerging market weakness caused by cooling growth in China and the increasing likelihood of a rate hike in the US.

On the local bourse, Sasol was among the biggest gainers as oil prices edged further above $46 a barrel.

Sasol, which makes fuel from coal and gas, gained 2% to R422.15.

Retailers featured on the decliners’ list on worries about consumer spending. Mr Price fell 2.2% to R200 and Shoprite declined 1.16% to R157.

Trade was robust with more than 220 million shares changing hands, well below last year’s daily average of 183 million shares.

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