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Rand back in EM top list after outsize rate hike

The rand ended its worst streak of weekly losses since April 2020.
Image: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

It took a rate hike of a magnitude not seen in more than six years to put South Africa’s currency back among the emerging-market currency winners.

The rand ended its worst streak of weekly losses since April 2020, elevating the currency to a list of just seven in developing-nations to post gains versus the dollar this year. The South African Reserve Bank on Thursday raised borrowing costs by 50 basis points to 4.75% and signaled it saw a steeper rate-hike path going forward.

China’s latest measure to bolster its economy also may support rand gains, as the country is the biggest buyer of South African raw materials.

Currency forecasts compiled by Bloomberg see the currency averaging R15.90 per dollar in the second quarter, compared with Friday’s spot level of around R15.85. The forecast has climbed from R14.81 a month ago amid concerns Federal Reserve tightening will erode the rand’s yield advantage over the greenback.

Investors in the futures market have remained bullish on the currency despite the risk-off sentiment of the past month. Traders still hold historically high net-long positions, meaning contracts betting on rand gains against the dollar outweigh wagers on declines, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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