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#RandReport: Rand firms to near one-week high; stocks down

At 1605 GMT the rand had strengthened 1.24% against dollar to 13.3225.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand climbed more than one percent on Thursday to its firmest level in nearly a week as demand for emerging currencies continued to improve in the wake of renewed political uncertainty in the United States.

At 1605 GMT the rand had strengthened 1.24% against dollar to 13.3225, just off its strongest level since May 5, putting some distance between the recent 13.4500 resistance level it has struggled to break this week.

The currency brought gains for the week to nearly 3% as it outpaced most of its emerging market peers.

"The rand failed at 13.70, and it was looking overbought at those levels, so it looks as if it's just moving within the ranges while there's no bad news out there," said currency trader at Rand Merchant Bank Jim Bryson.

The rand started the week off on the back foot after the victory of a centre-left candidate in the French presidential election and increased signs of an interest rate hike in the United States but has steadily gained ground as risk currencies and commodities returned to favour.

The rand plunged about 12% in the wake of President Jacob Zuma's shock removal of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in late March, which triggered credit downgrades to junk by two rating agencies.

The rand has however recovered its footing as new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba pledged to keep the country on the path of fiscal consolidation.

In fixed income, government bonds dipped with the yield for the benchmark instrument due in 2026 closing 0.5 basis points up to 8.740%.

The yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was almost flat at 8.74%.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.31% to 47,489 points while the All-Share index dropped 0.26% to 54,114 points.

Mondi Group dropped 2.39% to R344.78 after its first-quarter underlying operating profit fell 6% and the company announced plans for maintenance that would wipe about €80 million from 2017 operating profit.

"The market was expecting a lot better trading update so it was disappointed in the numbers," said Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies.

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