Rand weakens close to 5-year low

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Johannesburg - South Africa’s rand depreciated to the lowest intraday level since March 2009 against the dollar after measures of Chinese manufacturing fell, pushing emerging-market currencies weaker.

Bonds declined.

A Chinese Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics declined to 50.5 in December from 50.8 the previous month, while a separate gauge compiled by the statistics bureau and logistics federation fell to 51 from 51.4.

A reading above 50 signals expansion.

China is the biggest buyer of South African raw materials, accounting for about 12 percent of exports, according to government data.

“Emerging-market currencies are weaker in general on a stronger dollar,” Ion de Vleeschauwer, chief currency dealer at Bidvest Bank Ltd., said by phone from Johannesburg.

“Liquidity is thin in the market and moves in the exchange rate are exaggerated.”

The rand weakened 1.5 percent to 10.6570 per dollar by 3:42 p.m. in Johannesburg, the worst performer today among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg after the Norwegian krone and the Brazilian real.

The yield on benchmark government bonds due December 2026 rose six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 8.31 percent, the highest level on a closing basis since December 6.

Foreign investors bought a net 121 million rand ($11 million) of South African bonds on December 31 and sold a net 301 million rand of equities, according to data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. - Bloomberg News

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