Rand flat on local virus resurgence, markets up
JOHANNESBURG - The rand was little changed on Thursday as global market sentiment boosted by the Brexit deal was offset by a quickly worsening fresh coronavirus wave at home.
At 1530 GMT, the rand was at 14.6000 against the US dollar, trading 0.02 percent stronger than its previous close in thin trading ahead of the year-end holidays.
The rand has largely held onto gains over the month that lifted it to an 11-month peak, largely driven by Joe Biden's US election victory and hopes of a larger stimulus program there, as well as the global roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
The rand has advanced around 10 percent against the greenback since the onset of November, the bulk of those gains this month, but recent trade has been choppy with fears of a second coronavirus wave compounded by thin volumes as year-end approaches.
South Africa's health ministry on Wednesday reported the highest-ever daily increase in coronavirus cases, warning the second wave was progressing much faster and would surpass the peak of its first wave within days.
The stock market clung to its resilience, buoyed by mining companies and banks, but industrial firms fell, arresting part of the gain.
The benchmark FTSE/JSE all-share index closed up 0.32 percent to end the trading week at 59,176 points, while the bluechip FTSE/JSE top 40 companies index ended up 0.31 percent to 54,125 points.
After reaching 2018 highs last week, the main index has shed over a percent this week on rising concerns of a massive spike of infection in the country and its impact on economic recovery.
The bank index, often deemed a barometer of the economy, closed up 0.26 percent while the gold index was up 1.38 percent. The industrial index, which represents 25 firms across telecoms, e-commerce, retail etc., lost 0.34 percent.
The stock market will be closed on Friday for Christmas.
Government bonds inched weaker, with the yield on the instrument due in 2030 up 1.5 basis points to 8.770 percent.