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S.Africa's rand set for weekly loss but stocks buck trend

10/22/2021 | 11:53am EST
New South African bank notes featuring an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela are displayed at an office in Johannesburg

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa's rand lost its opening momentum on Friday and was set to end weaker as the euphoria around Chinese developer Evergrande's last-minute interest payment gave way to caution.

As of 1454 GMT, the rand was trading at 14.7475 against the dollar, 0.54% below its previous close and on track to end the week with a loss of over 0.8%.

The week brought in a mixed bag of news, from fears of a default by China Evergrande to strong U.S. earnings and firm commodity prices which pushed the rand to a high of 14.39 by midweek.

But as dollar gained against a basket of currencies, investor sentiment switched from risk-on to risk-off.

The local currency usually benefits when investors are willing to take on more risk in developing countries.

"The current value of rand is actually around its fair value and the early morning momentum was an over-reaction to Evergrande's last minute payment," said Warren Venketas, analyst at DailyFX.

With the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering coming in November, investors will move away from riskier currencies, Venketas said.

China Evergrande paid a dollar bond interest payment due Sept. 23 days before a deadline that would have plunged the developer into formal default, briefly bringing faith back to emerging markets.

Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), however, bucked the trend and ended the day much stronger with the benchmark index closing at 7-week high on prospects of quicker global economic recovery.

The day's gains were led by commodity companies which were up on higher gold and platinum prices. The JSE's resources index closed up 2.5%. Gold miner AngloGold Ashanti ended up over 5% and Gold Fields rose more than 7%.

A strong batch of U.S. earnings and a technology stock rally added to the sentiment with the benchmark all-share index closing up 1.5% at 67,050 points.

The blue-chip index of top 40 companies ended the week with a gain of 1.66% to 60,525 points.

Bonds fell with the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2030 rising 11 basis points to 9.585%.

(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Richard Chang)

© Reuters 2021
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