Rand under pressure, breaches 11 against US dollar

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NewRandMoney Reuters.

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was under pressure on Thursday after slipping below the psychologically key 11.0 to the dollar level overnight amid a renewed emerging markets sell-off.

The rand was at 11.0625 to the dollar at 08:07 SA time, down nearly 0.2 percent from Wednesday's New York close, the first time in a week it had ended the session below 11.

Emerging market currencies weakened on Wednesday after minutes from the latest US Federal Reserve meeting suggested policymakers would maintain the pace of a withdrawal of monetary stimulus.

Domestically, data showing that January consumer inflation accelerated to a higher-than-forecast 5.8 percent, from 5.4 percent in December, and an ongoing and costly platinum mining strike, weighed on the rand.

South Africa's platinum industry has lost 4.4 billion rand in revenue so far due to a four-week strike in the mines, the world's three biggest platinum producers said on Wednesday.

Violent protests in Ukraine and Thailand also affected sentiment towards emerging markets, while disappointing Chinese manufacturing data on Thursday reinforced concerns of a minor slowdown in the world's second biggest economy.

The preliminary China Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) from HSBC/Markit for February fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 in February from January's final reading of 49.5, as employment fell at the fastest pace in five years.

While sentiment towards emerging markets has worsened, it is “too early, and sentiment is not yet strong enough, to know if this is enough to generate another flare up of EM panic - but risks have grown,” Rand Merchant Bank strategist John Cairns wrote in a note.

Government bond yields spiked, climbing 10.5 basis points on the 2026 government bond to 8.7 percent and 9.5 basis points on the 2015 paper to 7.305 percent. - Reuters


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