SA bonds firm as Reserve Bank keeps rates unchanged

South African government bonds were firmer on Thursday afternoon, moments ahead of the South African Reserve Bank interest-rate decision, as the market priced in no change in rates, albeit with a hawkish outlook.

The local market was following firmer global bonds, with the US benchmark 10-year yield slipping below 3% once again, with yields in the UK and Germany also falling in safe-haven trade amid concerns about an escalating global trade war, which may now also affect the eurozone.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has launched an investigation into car and truck imports that could lead to new US tariffs similar to those imposed on imported steel and aluminium in March.

The US is the second-biggest importer of German vehicles after China, and automotive parts are Germany’s biggest source of export income. FxPro analysts said the US was considering new tariffs of up to 25% on imported vehicles and Trump has instructed the US commerce department to investigate the proposal on Section 232 national security grounds.

“This is negative for automotive companies selling into the US, with risk sentiment remaining subdued,” FxPro said.

At 3.06pm, the benchmark R186 government bond was bid at 8.46% from 8.50% and the R207 at 7.25% from 7.27%. The rand was at R12.4124 to the dollar from R12.4509.

The US 10-year treasury was at 2.978% from 2.9926%.

Sentiment was bond-positive following a move by the Turkish central bank to raise its lending rate by three percentage points to 16.5%, although the lira remained on the back foot, falling further against the dollar. This was indicative of the market signaling more hikes might be necessary.

Earlier, the US Federal Reserve minutes for the May meeting reflected a less hawkish stance than previously, with two more increases likely in 2018.