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Rand firmer despite poor manufacturing data

At 1540 GMT the rand was 0.12% firmer at R16.90 per dollar, after hitting a four-week high of R16.79 earlier.
Image: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

The rand firmed against the dollar on Thursday thanks to a rally in riskier assets globally even as poor manufacturing data at home highlighted the blow to the economy from a coronavirus lockdown.

At 1540 GMT the rand was 0.12% firmer at R16.90 per dollar, after hitting a four-week high of R16.79 earlier.

“Markets continue to seesaw, flipping between risk-on and risk-off at the blink of an eye,” Bianca Botes, executive director at Peregrine Treasury Solutions, said in a note.

“Gold eased from nine-year highs on Thursday, assisting emerging market currencies to recover some ground after weakening earlier in the week.”

The rand largely ignored data showing South Africa’s manufacturing output fell 49.4% year on year in April, reflecting the impact of a nationwide lockdown on the recession-hit economy.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) lost steam after surging for three consecutive trading days this week as poor manufacturing data and a global surge in coronavirus cases caught up with the market.

The benchmark FTSE/JSE All Share Index closed down 0.15% to 55,788 points while the FTSE/JSE Top 40 Companies Index slipped 0.04% to end the day at 51,537 points.

The JSE’s gold index, which represents 5 top gold mining companies, was at an all-time high on the back of rise in gold prices globally as investors shunned equities and parked money in safe haven. The index went up 3.5%, but pared some gains to settle down 0.4% from the previous close at 1600 GMT.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue was down 3.5 basis points to 9.650%.

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