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Rand tumbles to eight-month low

The move mainly reflected the dollar's relentless push against major currencies.

FILE: This was the softest the rand has been since 4 February according to Thomson Reuters data. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand fell to lows last seen nearly eight months ago on Thursday, mainly reflecting the dollar's relentless push against major currencies as investors bet on rates going up in the United States.

At 1504 GMT the rand traded at 11,2005 to the greenback, down 0,65 percent from Wednesday's New York close and within easy reach of the session trough of 11,2250.

This was the softest the rand has been since 4 February according to Thomson Reuters data.

In fixed income, government bonds edges up slightly, with the yield for the benchmark 2026 government bond dipping 1 basis point to 8,165 percent.

The rand has dropped nearly 2 percent against the dollar over the past week, extending its losses since the start of the year to 7 percent.

"It is the year of the dollar and that seems to be more pronounced of late. The dollar is stronger than anything and it's hammering emerging markets," Bidvest Bank chief forex dealer Ion de Vleeschauwer said.

Recent data has backed the case for monetary tightening in the world's biggest economy, whilst elsewhere, including Europe, rates are likely to remain depressed to support flagging growth.

On the local front, the market remained anxious for the government to announce a replacement for respected central bank Governor Gill Marcus, who said last week she would not seek a second year term when her current one ends on 8 November.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the process to appoint a replacement was underway but President Jacob Zuma would not rush it.

Deputy governor Lesetja Kganyago is seen as most likely to succeed Marcus, ahead of fellow deputy governor Daniel Mminele, a Reuters poll showed this week.

However, economists said both Kganyago and Mminele would be competent governors.

"Even if Zuma appoints one of those two guys, it's not going to strengthen the rand although it will put the market at ease. You need the dollar weaker for that to happen, but for the moment that doesn't seem to be a likely outcome," de Vleeschauwer said.