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#RandReport: Rand firms as dollar hammered by Syria fears, stocks lower

At 1512 GMT, the rand traded at R11.9900 against the dollar, 0.39% firmer than Tuesday’s close of R12.0375.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rand firmed in late trade on Wednesday as the dollar slipped on fears of possible Western military action against Syria and tensions between Russia and the United States soared, subduing risk appetite.

The concerns weighed on stocks, with the benchmark index snapping two straight sessions of gains.

At 1512 GMT, the rand traded at R11.9900 against the dollar, 0.39% firmer than Tuesday’s close of R12.0375.

The rand had weakened to R12.1250/dollar earlier in the session in line with a broader emerging markets sell-off.

But the mood subsequently turned more bearish after US President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The fragility of South Africa’s recent domestic economic rebound was also in focus after data on Tuesday showed manufacturing had fallen on a month-on-month basis in February. In addition, the Reserve Bank warned last year’s boom in growth could fade if details on policy reforms were not forthcoming.

On the bourse, the JSE Top-40 index fell 1 percent to 49,472 points and the broader All-share index lost by the same margin to 56,170 points.

Lenders Barclays Africa and Standard Bank were among the biggest decliners, both falling 3.4% as they started trading without the rights to their next dividend payouts.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond fell one basis point to 8.095%.

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