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South Africa's rand set for weekly gain, stocks flat

10/15/2021 | 11:33am EST
South African Rand coins are seen in this illustration picture

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa's rand firmed on Friday, and was on track for a weekly gain thanks to a softer dollar and higher commodity prices, while stocks inched up only slightly.

At 1500 GMT, the rand traded at 14.6200 against the dollar, 1.05% firmer than its previous close.

The currency has firmed 3% since Monday.

This week the rand has been boosted by market bets the South African central bank will raise its main lending rate at its next monetary policy meeting in November, as well as a retreat in the dollar, an increase in the gold price and demand for local bonds.

"The prospect of interest rate hikes by the South African central bank is supportive. However, due to the fragile economy, we see the rand weakening in the medium term," Elisabeth Andreae, FX and EM analyst at Commerzbank wrote in a note.

The rand this week shrugged off mixed domestic economic data, including August manufacturing and mining numbers, which reinforced the view that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been uneven across sectors.

The dollar headed for its first weekly decline versus major peers since the start of last month as global risk appetite rebounded.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2030 was down 5.5 basis points to 9.41%.

Stocks were flat, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Top-40 Index closing 0.17% higher at 60,494 points and the broader All-Share Index up 0.27% to 67,029 points.

Drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare and pharmacist Clicks topped the blue-chip index, rising 3.6% and 3.4% respectively.

On Friday, South African health minister Joe Phaahla announced the country would start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17 against COVID-19, and that it was considering giving high-risk healthcare workers a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Aspen is contracted to manufacture J&J's vaccine locally while Clicks administers shots in its pharmacies.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-MtamboEditing by Mark Potter and Peter Graff)

ę Reuters 2021
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