Options signal rand swings will get worse before they get better

The rand is back as the world’s most volatile major currency, and options pricing suggests it’s not going to lose that status any time soon.

A gauge of expected swings over the next six months, based on prices of options to buy and sell the rand, has jumped 175 basis points since the beginning of August to 16.1% on Thursday. Historical volatility climbed 61 basis points to 13.8%, the highest among 16 major developed-nation and emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

That took the spread of implied over realised volatility to the most in almost a year, as traders hedge against currency fluctuations amid the escalating trade war and concern about South Africa’s fiscal outlook. The premium of options to sell the rand over those to buy it, known as the 25 Delta risk reversal, widened 23 basis points to 338.

Rand movements

South Africa’s currency has depreciated 6.5% versus the dollar in August, the worst performance among emerging-market currencies after Argentina’s peso. This week alone, it has whipsawed between daily gains of as much as 1.1% and losses of 1.9%.

The rand was at 15.275 per dollar by 17:18 in Johannesburg.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Source: moneyweb.co.za