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Rand steady, focus back on Ukraine

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was steady against the dollar on Monday, in sight of last week's five-month highs, but could lose ground if the crisis in Ukraine fans a fresh wave of global investor aversion to risky emerging market assets.

On the domestic front, mining data later this week should give new pointers on the impact of a 4-month strike that has hit output at the world's three largest platinum producers.

With last week's election out of the way, investors are also looking ahead to President Jacob Zuma's announcement of a cabinet later this month for clues on policy direction over the next five years.

At 10:36 SA time, the rand traded at 10.3470 against the greenback, almost exactly where it closed Friday's session in New York, and within striking distance of this year's high of 10.3125 scaled last week.

Government bonds were similarly flat, with yields for the 2026 and 2015 instruments, the benchmarks for the secondary market, each unchanged at 8.12 percent and 6.54 percent respectively.

However, rand bulls could retreat this week if mining and retails sales data disappoint and the crisis in Ukraine escalates.

“Given that tensions in Ukraine are becoming more violent and more regions of the country have voted in favour in becoming part of Russia, the rand and other emerging market currencies could fall victim to heightened risk aversion,” Barclays Africa said in a note. - Reuters

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