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JOHANNESBURG –The rand yesterday shrugged off the latest bout of rolling blackouts as markets turned their attention to the Federal Reserve meeting this week. 

The rand strengthened slightly to R14.4354 from an earlier low of R14.47 against the greenback as the markets looked to the Fed to remain accommodative and to announce an end to the process of unwinding its balance sheet this year. 

The local currency also waited for domestic inflation data and retail sales due later this week for direction and the impact that its depreciation last month would have on consumers. 

By 5pm, on Friday, the rand was bid at R14.48 against the dollar. Andre Botha, a senior dealer at TreasuryONE, said the biggest risk event this week would be the Fed’s decision on interest rates tomorrow. 

“While the expected outcome is for the Fed to sit on their hands, the key to the speech would be whether the Fed will halt their tapering programme, which will stop the US dollar liquidity squeeze which should be emerging markets positive should it materialise,” Botha said.