South Africa’s rand kicked off 2021 on a strong note in early Monday trade, as investors pinned their hopes on a COVID-19 vaccination programme, while firmer commodity prices lifted stocks.
At 10:40 the rand was 0.78% firmer at 14.55 against the dollar from a Dec. 31 close at 14.6700.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday that South Africa aims to get vaccines by next month but is still in talks with pharmaceutical companies and no deals have been signed yet, amid growing criticism of the government’s response.
Read: SA trying to get Covid-19 vaccine as soon as February, says Mkhize
A resurgence in coronavirus infections has been driven partly by a new variant called 501.V2. Daily new cases hit a record 18,000 several days ago but have dipped slightly since.
Investors are still counting on central banks to keep money cheap while the global economy awaits a mass rollout of coronavirus vaccines to return to substantial growth.
A softening in the dollar also boosted emerging-market currencies.
South African stocks also firmed, lifted by commodity shares as gold prices hit an eight-week peak on Monday. Other commodities including oil, iron ore and copper also began 2021 on the front foot as vaccine rollouts and further fiscal support hopes spurred demand and boosted prices.
The Johannesburg All-Share index was 1.05% firmer at 10:41, while the Top-40 index was up 1.21%.
Bonds weakened slightly, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue up 0.5 basis points to 8.740%.