Rand firmer in subdued trade as euro seesaws

The rand was firmer on Monday afternoon, lifted slightly by S&P Global Ratings’ decision to leave SA’s debt rating unchanged on Friday, as expected, while much of the global focus was on a wobbling euro.

The euro had earlier gained after Italy’s president blocked the formation of a new government supported by two anti-establishment parties, citing concerns that this would jeopardise Italy’s place in the currency union, reported Dow Jones Newswires.

Analysts had, however, warned that the prospect of further political turmoil in Italy would mean these gains were short-lived, with the common currency back at a multimonth low to the dollar on Monday afternoon.

Emerging-market currencies were mixed, with the local unit given some positive direction by S&P’s decision to keep SA’s local and foreign-denominated credit at junk status, but with a stable outlook.

Following the Reserve Bank’s decision last week to keep interest rates on hold, idiosyncratic risk in the form of the threat of further sovereign rating downgrades, had significantly diminished, said Rand Merchant Bank analyst Isaah Mhlanga.

US and UK markets were closed on Monday, putting a damper on general activity.

Local bonds found support from the firmer rand, having been back in favour with global investors last week.

Foreigners purchased a net R3bn of local government debt last week, according to JSE market statistics.

At 3pm, the rand was at R12.4489 to the dollar from R12.4897, R14.4531 to the euro from R14.6196 and R16.5634 to the pound from R16.6441.

The euro was at $1.1610 from $1.1687.

The benchmark R186 bond was bid at 8.42% from 8.44% and the R207 at 7.24% from 7.25%.

Source: businesslive.co.za