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Rand eases on strong US data, stocks flat

Upbeat US price and jobless claims data eased some concerns about the strength of the US economy.

Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand weakened on Friday after strong US economic data kept alive bets the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates this year, while stocks were flat with investors looking to Chinese data next week for growth clues.

The rand retreated from a session high of 13,0510 to 13,1105 by 1442 GMT, down 0,47%, while government bonds weakened, mirroring the local currency.

Upbeat US price and jobless claims data eased some concerns about the strength of the US economy. Higher US rates would tighten global liquidity, analysts said.

"Anytime we get positive data from the US that's going to be good for the dollar because it means that the interest rate hike move will not be that far off and that's what is influencing the rand," said Christie Viljoen, a senior economist at NKC African Economics.

The yield for debt maturing in 2026 inched up 0,5 basis points to 8,145%.

Wall Street logged solid gains overnight, after the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell back to a 42-year low last week. That suggested the labour market remained strong even though recent jobs data have sent mixed signals.

On the bourse, stocks were muted ahead of China's GDP data.

Data on 19 October is expected to show China's economic growth slowed to 6,8% in the third quarter, the weakest since the global financial crisis, putting pressure on policymakers to roll out more support measures as fears of a dramatic slowdown spook investors.

"Guys are not going to do much trading before much-anticipated Chinese GDP data on Monday," said Rabi Thithi, a trader at Avior Capital.

"It is expected it to be weaker and this could put pressure on commodities and emerging market currencies and in particular the rand where we could see it give back some of the gains we have seen recently."

The benchmark Top-40 index closed 0.01% lower at 47,460 while the wider All-share index ended 0.04 percent down at 52,945.

Anglo American Platinum was the biggest decliner on among blue chips, dropping 2,9% to R282,51.