The rand was slightly stronger early on Monday, on signs that the Omicron coronavirus variant driving a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in the country may be causing mainly mild infections.
At 0712 GMT, the rand traded at R16.03 against the dollar, roughly 0.2% firmer than its previous close.
Anecdotal accounts from South African doctors and experts suggest that Omicron may be causing less severe clinical symptoms than other coronavirus variants, though they caution that more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
The rand sold off late last month after the variant was first detected in southern Africa, prompting countries including Britain and the United States to impose travel restrictions on the region for fear Omicron could spread quickly even among vaccinated people.
Analysts at ETM Analytics said in a note that the rand was likely to recover as fears over Omicron gradually ease, but they said the extent of the recovery could depend on market expectations for US Federal Reserve monetary policy tightening.
On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Top-40 index was up 0.4% in early trade. The government’s benchmark 2030 bond was little changed, with the yield up 1 basis point to 9.61%.