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Rand slumps hurt by strong US jobs data

By 1600 GMT the local unit had weakened 2,04 percent to 11,5030 per dollar.

South African Rand. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand tumbled two percent on Friday, giving up gains that saw the currency race to a two-month high to the dollar, after strong jobs growth in the US put a mid-year rate hike there back in the reckoning.

By 1600 GMT the local unit had weakened 2,04 percent to 11,5030 per dollar.

The rand idled around the key 11,3000 support level for most of the session before a 257,000 increase in US non-farm payrolls knocked the stuffing from its recent rally.

"The rand was pretty much dead until the US data," said Sean McCalgan of ETM Analytics.

He added that the local currency could recover in the short-term on technical factors although the US Federal Reserve's policy outlook remained a strong downside risk.

"We're seeing a collective turn in central bank sentiment and policy around the globe but the Fed is still the outlier. Any sort of data that reinforces that view of divergence is naturally going to be supportive of the dollar."

A slight uptick in the number of unemployed Americans earlier in the week saw broad softening of the dollar.

But the payrolls figure, an 11th straight month of job gains above 200,000, boosted the greenback and renewed market bets of an interest rate hike by June.

Bonds were also weaker as a general correction on local yields continued, with the benchmark government issue due in 2026, adding eight basis points to 7,43 percent.

Quarterly unemployment figures and December manufacturing data will be published on Tuesday by the government statistics agency.