The South African rand inched weaker on Wednesday, backing away from a four-session peak as cautious investors awaited clues on the economy ahead of key manufacturing data and developments in US-China trade talks.
The statistics agency publishes manufacturing data on Thursday, the first set of key indicators since last week’s dismal budget speech where the finance minister slashed the 2019 economic growth forecast to 0.5% for 2019.
A Reuters survey of economists sees the sector contracting 0.6% year-on-year after August’s 1.8% contraction. Foreign reserves and monthly business confidence survey data is also due on Thursday.
At 1500 GMT, the rand was 0.61% weaker at 14.83 per dollar, weaker than the overnight close of 14.75.
The rand has gained nearly 3% since Friday after ratings firm Moody’s kept the country’s credit status at investment level, while a global bout of demand for risk assets also supported the currency.
Read: Moody’s leaves South Africa teetering on brink of ‘junk’
Volumes have since cooled and investors have avoided big bets as they scour the economic data to gauge the country’s chances of avoiding a full downgrade to junk when Moody’s re-valuates its credit in March.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday at an investment summit in Johannesburg that the R200 billion of investment pledges secured for 2019 would help ease pressure on the economy, although the rand hardly budged on the announcement.
Read: SA makes headway in $100bn investment drive
On the bourse, stocks reached 2-month highs along with global equities as investors digested a corporate earnings season that has seen the bulk of US-listed firms best analysts’ expectations.
The benchmark JSE Top-40 Index was up 0.86% to 51 424.22 points, while the broader All-Share Index rose 0.71 to 57 653.89, both reaching their highest rallies since mid September.
“We’re a little bit amazed at how aggressive the buying has been,” said Greg Davies from Cratos Capital.
“The Dow, Nasdaq, and the S&P all time highs, so that will drag world sentiment towards equities a lot stronger. So certainly there’s money flowing into stocks worldwide,” Davies said.
Mining heavyweights Impala Platinum Holdings and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) were the biggest winners on the blue-chip index despite a slightly weaker platinum price. Impala Platinum was up 6.56% to 6.64 rand while Amplats rose 5.77 to R64.28.
Read: Anglo American says Eskom poses a major risk for investors
Bonds weakened slightly, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 adding 1 basis point to 8.405%.