File picture: Philimon Bulawayo
JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed against the dollar yesterday as the greenback retreated, while a recovery of Steinhoff’s shares following a week of turmoil at the global retailer lifted blue chip stocks.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R13.5899 to the dollar, 1.03c stronger than at the same time on Friday.

The dollar edged lower against a basket of currencies yesterday, snapping a five-day rising streak as investors took profits before a US central bank meeting this week.

Further gains were curbed by nervous investors ahead of the ANC leadership conference this weekend, where a successor to party leader, President Jacob Zuma, will be elected.

“We suspect, however, that the rand’s gains are going to abate and the market will be cautious going into the weekend given the decisive vote is due on Sunday,” said John Cairns, a currency strategist at Rand Merchant Bank.

Investors also readied for a heavy week of data, including consumer price inflation and current account numbers.

The yield on the country’s benchmark government bond due in 2026 edged up 1 basis point to 9.215percent.

On the stock market, the benchmark JSE Top40 index advanced 0.08percent to 51711.22 points, while the all share index was down - 0.03percent at 57997.33 points.

Shares in household goods retailer Steinhoff recovered some of their losses suffered after the company flagged accounting irregularities last week, rallying 55.83percent to R9.35.

The company, which has its primary listing in Frankfurt, asked its lenders for “continued support” as it focuses on cash-flow to keep its operations running after its chief executive resigned and its shares tanked 80percent in four days.

There was some buying of the stock off a low base, but most investors were waiting for more information, said Independent Securities trader, Ryan Woods.

“On the positive side, it does look like Christo Wiese is doing a salvage job,” Woods added, referring to the retail group’s biggest shareholder and its chairman, who is temporarily at the helm.

Banks weighed on the bourse, with the banking index shedding 2.7percent and Barclays Africa Group, the biggest blue chip loser, down 4.13percent to R150.50.

- REUTERS