Strikes, protests keep rand on the ropes

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IOL image JSE interior view INDEPENDENT MEDIA The JSE is seen in this file photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand gave back some of last week's gains against the dollar on Monday, recording one of the steepest losses in a basket of emerging market currencies as investors refocused on strikes and protests bedevilling the economy.

The local unit was at 11.1450 to the greenback by 17:57 SA time, down 0.77 percent from Friday's close. It was the weakest performer after the Hungarian forint among 20 emerging market currencies tracked by Thomson Reuters.

The rand struggled to sustain a push above 11.0000 last week despite a general rally in emerging markets, with a weak economic outlook holding back investor appetite for local assets.

Often-violent protests against poor services have engulfed several townships surrounding Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, and nearly three-week-old strikes in the platinum sector have kept a negative spotlight on Africa's biggest economy.

“Although some of these socio-political tensions might already be priced into the rand, we maintain that the rand remains vulnerable to headline risk over the medium term,” said Absa Capital in a note.

“These idiosyncratic concerns could ensure that the rand will struggle to rally significantly, even if sentiment towards emerging markets in general improves.”

In fixed income, government bond yields climbed higher in a market that is pricing in further monetary tightening this year after the Reserve Bank unexpectedly raised its repo rate by 50 basis points last month.

Yields for the benchmark 2026 instrument added 9 basis points to 8.765 percent and those for the R157 bond maturing next year added 4 basis points to 7.135 percent. - Reuters

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