Rand softer on jobs data, JSE inches up

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THE RAND weak­ened yes­ter­day after poor em­ploy­ment fig­ures, with traders also cau­tious as they waited to see if US Fed­eral Re­serve chair­per­son Janet Yellen would stick to her pos­i­tive eco­nomic out­look at an event later.

At 5.40pm, the rand traded at R12.96 to the dol­lar, 0.74 per­cent weaker than its New York close on Mon­day.

Em­ploy­ment in South Africa’s non-agri­cul­ture sec­tor fell by 0.5 per­cent to 9.64 mil­lion peo­ple in the first quar­ter of 2017, com­pared with the pre­vi­ous three months.

“The em­ploy­ment data is fairly cor­re­lated with what we have seen with the rand weak­en­ing,” said IG South Africa se­nior mar­ket an­a­lyst, Shaun Muri­son.

“We have had a lot of cen­tral bankers speak­ing to­day (yes­ter­day) and Janet Yellen who’s set to ad­dress mar­kets after they close, so th­ese could be some of lit­tle cat­a­lysts for move­ments on the rand.”

Traders ex­pected Yellen to main­tain her pos­i­tive out­look on the US econ­omy de­spite the re­cent weak data, re­in­forc­ing the cen­tral bank’s plan to raise rates once more this year and three times next year.

Mean­while, stocks posted mod­est gains, led by gold min­ing shares after the bul­lion price re­cov­ered from a six-week low hit the pre­vi­ous ses­sion.

The bench­mark JSE Top40 in­dex was up 0.39 per­cent at 45 288.38 points and the broader all share in­dex rose 0.28 per­cent to 51 432.24 points.

The gold min­ers fea­tured on the gain­ers’ list on the bench­mark in­dex. Gold Fields climbed 2.86 per­cent to R46.72 and Har­mony Gold rose by 2.55 per­cent to R21.70. On the flip­side, Om­nia Hold­ings tum­bled 8.61 per­cent to close at R132.50.

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