Rand firmer but could weaken

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NewRandMoney Reuters.

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand touched a 1-1/2 week high against the dollar on Friday, supported by a risk-positive global environment, but could retreat next week if GDP data comes in weaker than expected, undermining the case for more rate hikes this year.

By 17:35 SA time the rand was trading at 10.3055 to the greenback, up 0.22 percent from Thursday's New York close at 10.3280.

Government bonds were little changed from their previous close, with the yield for the 2026 government bond edging up 2.5 basis points to 8.05 percent.

The bond maturing in 2015 was unchanged at 6.55 percent.

The rand climbed to 10.2965 earlier on Friday, its strongest since May 15, with sentiment still buoyed by what the market saw as a fairly hawkish central bank statement on Thursday, despite keeping the benchmark repo rate unchanged at 5.5 percent.

But next week's first quarter GDP data is likely to point to an economy still struggling to grow meaningfully after a 2009 recession, with economists polled by Reuters on Friday expecting a 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter contraction.

The economy could even shrink by as much as 0.2 percent, said Anisha Arora, an emerging market analyst at 4Cast.

“An outcome in line with ours should quell any lingering hawkish market sentiments following the South African Reserve bank meeting,” Arora said.

“The year-to-date dollar/rand lows of 10.274 should thus remain untouched, with 10.30 offering first support. On the upside 10.48 is the key level to watch.” - Reuters

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