Rand flat, bank­ing stocks weigh on JSE

The Star Early Edition - - PRICES -

THE RAND was flat yes­ter­day, tak­ing a breather after a week of volatile trade driven by swirling spec­u­la­tion that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma would step down be­fore his term ends next year.

Stocks were led lower by bank­ing stocks which came off a pre­vi­ous rally on the back of ru­mours of Zuma’s early exit.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R12.4392 to the dol­lar, 1.37 firmer than at the same time on Wed­nes­day, hav­ing opened at R12.4325 and weak­ened to the R12.50 psy­cho­log­i­cal mark be­fore claw­ing back some ground as eco­nomic data from the US dis­ap­pointed.

In the pre­vi­ous ses­sion the rand briefly slipped to a two-week low of R12.55 after the ANC said an early exit for Zuma had not been dis­cussed at a party meet­ing.

The rand has breached R12.50 three times since the be­gin­ning of the year but has failed to close above that level. It has also stopped shy of the 21-day mov­ing av­er­age at R12.60, open­ing the door to gains to­wards the R12.25 level as in­vestors buy the cur­rency based on trend anal­y­sis.

A higher gold price, South Africa’s chief com­mod­ity ex­port, also sup­ported the rand. Gold prices rose yes­ter­day to near their high­est in four months after a hawk­ish tone in the min­utes of a European Cen­tral Bank meet­ing pushed the euro sharply higher against the dol­lar.

The dol­lar also weak­ened after data showed a rise in US job­less claims and a de­crease in the coun­try’s pro­ducer prices.

Lo­cally, man­u­fac­tur­ing fig­ures showed the sec­tor ex­panded 1.7 per­cent in Novem­ber, a touch higher than fore­cast, eas­ing pres­sure on the rand as the econ­omy showed fur­ther signs of re­cov­ery.

Bonds weak­ened, with the yield on the gov­ern­ment is­sue due in 2026 adding 1.5 ba­sis points to 8.61 per­cent.

On the bourse, the bench­mark JSE Top40 in­dex dropped 0.65 per­cent to 52 824.8 points, while the all share in­dex low­ered 0.62 per­cent to 59 606.02 points.

The bank­ing sec­tor weak­ened 2.07 per­cent, with FirstRand fall­ing 3.11 per­cent to R61.04, Ned­bank drop­ping 1.96 per­cent to R249.22 and Stan­dard Bank weak­en­ing 1.84 per­cent to R187.44. Min­ers Gold Fields and

Sibanye gained 2.17 per­cent and 1.05 per­cent to R53.59 and R16.37, re­spec­tively.

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