Rand weakens to 2-1/2 month low

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IOL world currency3 Graphic: renjith krishnan

The rand fell 1.40 percent on Tuesday, hitting eight rand to the US dollar for the first time since January 23, on renewed worries over the global economy, which has hit emerging market and commodity currencies.

At 16:12 local time, the rand was bid at R8.0161 to the dollar from its overnight close of R7.8805. It was bid at R10.4885 to the euro from R10.3315 before, and at R12.6802 against sterling from R12.5290 previously.

One local analyst said its movements were exaggerated by thin liquidity as not all traders are back to their desks after the long Easter weekend.

“We are feeling the after-effects of the poor US jobs data. This is affecting all commodity currencies, not just the rand,” a local trader said

The euro was bid at US$1.3081 from Monday's close of $1.3111.

RMB analysts noted in a morning report that Friday's well-below-consensus 120,000 increase in US nonfarm employment left the question of whether the US was in a sustainable recovery unanswered.

“Markets have swung back to expecting QE3, this is even after the Fed minutes last Tuesday suggested no such thing. We also lack clarity over the Chinese economy: the surprising jump of inflation to 3.6% in March suggests limited scope for aggressive monetary easing and therefore a higher risk of a hard landing,” they wrote.

Against this backdrop, the rand experienced its worst weekly performance this year. Losses have been most aggressive on the dollar cross, with US$/ZAR rising to a high of 7.90 over the long weekend, but EUR/ZAR pushing into the 10.30s and GBP/ZAR into the 12.50s.

Meanwhile Dow Jones Newswires reported that the dollar was broadly firmer in European hours Tuesday as currency traders belatedly digested Friday's weak U.S. jobs data after a long weekend and as renewed worries about Spain's and Italy's economic health weighed on the euro.

Those concerns, which also dragged on European equities and pushed up Spanish borrowing costs, weighed on the common currency, which sank below $1.31 against the dollar and traded at its weakest against the yen in just over a month.

Yields on Spanish government 10-year bonds rose to their highest level since early December as investors fretted that government efforts to close the country's gaping budget gap and overhaul its economy had so far fallen short.

The euro wasn't the only currency under pressure. Sterling fell sharply against the dollar, falling to as low as $1.5825. It also weakened against the euro.

Emerging market currencies were under pressure from the off, tracking the euro lower. The South African rand suffered the most, as the dollar printed a two-and-a-half month high against the rand. The dollar was also stronger against the Turkish lira despite robust February industrial production data from Turkey published Monday. - I-Net Bridge and Reuters

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