Rand heads for punishing 6% loss this week

In early trade the rand was at R15.58 against the dollar.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

The rand was on track for a 6% weekly drop against the dollar on Friday as severe power cuts and floods dented the country’s economic growth prospects.

Also weighing on the rand, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday that a half-point interest rate hike would be on the table next month, boosting the dollar and hurting emerging-market currencies.

At 0703 GMT, the rand traded at R15.58 against the dollar, around 1.4% weaker than its previous close and down more than 6% on its closing level last week.

The crisis at state power utility Eskom and floods in KwaZulu-Natal province that caused at least R10 billion of infrastructure damage have reminded investors that Africa’s most industrialised economy faces significant constraints.

ETM Analytics said in a research note that another potential factor hurting the rand this week was Barclays selling a stake in South African bank Absa, as the proceeds were probably being converted into hard currency.

The research firm said this week’s steep depreciation had unwound much of the rand’s overvaluation, meaning the bearish impetus may begin to fade in upcoming trading sessions.

The South African government’s benchmark 2030 bond was also weaker in early deals, with the yield rising 7.5 basis points to 9.94%.

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