South African rand set for first red week in four

06/11/2021 | 01:23pm

LONDON (Reuters) -South Africa's rand, this year's best performing emerging market currency, weakened on Friday and posted its first weekly fall in four as investors booked profits and opted for a cautious stance.

At 1620 GMT the rand was 1.2% weaker at 13.7475 per dollar, moving further from a 28-month high hit last week.

As well as a general consolidation in FX markets this week, South Africa was officially declared to be in its third wave of COVID-19 infections, as the continent's worst-hit country registered 9,149 new cases on Thursday.

While GDP data has been stronger-than-expected, there have been ongoing reminders of the country's chronic power problems, with state-run energy firm Eskom forced to extend planned electricity outages.

"We saw a strong pullback by ZAR bulls. The global economic picture remains optimistic with Europe looking like the frontrunner," said Warren Venketas, analyst at DailyFX.

Bonds weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 issue up 1 basis point to 8.66%.

The local stock market remained calm despite two major announcements from the government in as many days, prompting analysts to consider whether inflation is weighing heavily on investor sentiment.

The government on Friday said it would offload a 51% stake in state-owned airline South African Airways, the debts of which had been a burden on the exchequer for several years.

A move to reform the energy sector on Thursday was cheered by the industry.

"But nothing really convinced anyone to come rushing into a market at this point... markets remain skeptical," said Greg Davies, trader at Cratos Capital.

He said that volumes on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were quite low suggesting that investors were staying on the sidelines to see where inflation was headed.

"Inflation is a big concern," he said.

The FTSE/JSE benchmark all-share index closed marginally higher, up 0.27% to 67,724 points, and the blue-chip index of top 40 companies slipped 0.25% to 61,445 points.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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