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Rand falls to 14-year lows in emerging market sell-off

The rand hit a session low of 12,680 to the dollar, its weakest since December 2001.

FILE: The rand was on track for a third straight daily loss despite the South African Reserve Bank raising domestic interest rates by 25 basis points on Thursday to curb inflationary risks. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's rand fell more than 1,5 percent to a 14-year low against the dollar on Friday, taking the brunt of a sell-off in commodity currencies triggered by concerns about a slowdown in China's growth.

The rand hit a session low of 12,680 to the dollar, its weakest since December 2001, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The rand, particularly vulnerable during bouts of risk aversion because of South Africa's nagging budget and current account deficits, was the second-weakest performer in a basket of 25 emerging market currencies tracked by Thomson Reuters.

"Broadly it is just risk-off across EM," IGM analyst Christopher Shiells said.

"There's nothing specifically South Africa related, but the rand is being targeted as it's still seen as more sensitive to the big external risks."

Commodity currencies in general were under pressure after a survey showed the factory sector in China contracted by the most in 15 months in July.

The rand was on track for a third straight daily loss despite the South African Reserve Bank raising domestic interest rates by 25 basis points on Thursday to curb inflationary risks.