File image: The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. (File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko).
JOHANNESBURG - The rand recovered yesterday, firming more than 1.5percent against the dollar as the greenback fell after weaker than forecast US inflation data pared market expectations of a faster interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R12.3872 to the dollar, 19.53cents firmer than at the same time on Wednesday, rebounding after three consecutive sessions of losses.

The dollar edged away from 2018 highs yesterday as US consumer prices increased less than expected last month, paring traders’ optimism inflation was accelerating which would allow for faster Fed interest rates hikes.

The rand largely ignored local data showing mining and manufacturing industries contracted in March, threatening to reverse a fragile economic rebound.

“The uptrend in the USD has cooled off and that has provided most emerging markets on the currency and rates front to recover some of the lost ground,” said Halen Bothma, an analyst at ETM Analytics.

“It doesn’t look like the depressing (local) data prints had much of an influence.”

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 6.5 basis points to 8.39percent, reflecting firmer prices.

The equities market also ended in positive territory as world stocks hit three-week highs with rising oil prices lifting energy counters.

But shares in troubled retailer Steinhoff fell almost 14percent at one point and ended 3.87percent lower at R1.74 after the company said a probe by auditors PwC had found previous overstatements of its profits might result in additional material impairments.

Steinhoff, which runs chains such as Britain’s Poundland, Mattress Firm in the US and Conforama in France, is fighting for its survival after discovering irregularities in its accounts in December.

Overall, the benchmark JSE Top40 index added 0.42percent to 51493.07 points, while the broader all share index closed 0.16percent higher at 58005.62 points.

Among top decliners, Truworths dropped 4.84percent to R94.67 and Mediclinic retreated 3.79percent to R115.45.

Naspers jumped 3.54percent to close at R3185.08.

- REUTERS