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Rand dips as power crisis, attacks on foreigners persist

By 1500 GMT the rand had slipped 1,42 percent to 12,1870 per dollar.

FILE: Against the euro, the local unit slipped more than one percent to a one week-low of 12,9543. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand weakened on Wednesday as power supplier Eskom implemented widespread electricity cuts for the fourth straight day, while attacks against foreign nationals also weighed on sentiment.

By 1500 GMT the rand had slipped 1,42 percent to 12,1870 per dollar, near its softest level in two weeks.

Against the euro, the local unit slipped more than one percent to a one week-low of 12,9543.

The currency was equally weak against the British pound, shedding nearly 1-1/2 percent to 17,9890 per sterling.

"The rand's been knocked off the ground today," said Ion de Vleeschauwer, a currency dealer at Bidvest Bank. "Load-shedding is becoming a bit of a problem."

South Africa lost a quarter of its power supply on Tuesday in one of its worst outages in years.

Power supply was also unstable on Wednesday, and Eskom said it would reduce power supply, citing a shortage of generation capacity.

Traders said the currency was also affected by negative sentiment following a wave of anti-foreigner violence that has killed at least four people.

Immigrants in downtown Johannesburg shut their shops on Wednesday, fearful that the attacks mostly focused in the port city of Durban threatened to spread.

"The more this continues, the more negatively it's going to impact on sentiment towards the country," de Vleeschauwer said of the violence. Sixty people were killed in a flare-up of similar violence in 2008 in which foreigners were attacked.

Local government bonds tracked the currency weaker, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 dropping seven asis points to 7,795 percent.