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#RandReport: Rand extends gains; resources, banks lift stocks

Data on Tuesday showed South Africa’s economy expanded only 0.6 percent in the final quarter.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's rand extended its recovery for a second day after President Jacob Zuma said he supported Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, helping the currency shrug off data showing the economy was slowing.

By 1625 the rand had firmed 1.9 percent to 15.700 per dollar, moving further away from the psychologically crucial 16.00 mark it slumped to after reports of a rift between the president and the finance minister.

Bonds were weaker, with benchmark 2026 issue adding 1.5 basis points to 9.365 percent.

"Brazil was downgraded to junk by a third ratings agency recently, so many international investors need to find somewhere to put their money in the emerging markets and for now it appears that South Africa is still a good choice for them," Inkunzi Investments senior trader Petri Redelinghuys said.

Data on Tuesday showed South Africa's economy expanded only 0.6 percent in the final quarter, slowing as the agricultural and manufacturing sectors shrank, while new vehicle sales fell by 8.1 percent year-on-year.

Barclays Africa Group's shares rose 2.1 percent to 138.89 rand after parent Barclays Plc said it will take two to three years to sell the bank's majority shareholding of Barclays Africa Group and it could keep a minority part of the stake beyond that deadline.

Barclays Africa Group also reported a 10 percent rise in annual profit, helped partly by a stronger showing from its cross-border business.

Other financials also gained, with Capitec Bank rising 5.5 percent to 500 rand, the biggest winner among the Johannesburg Securities Exchange's blue-chips.

FirstRand rose 5 percent to R46.50.

Shares in global mining firms Anglo American rose 3.7 percent to R107.84, while BHP Billiton advanced 2.47 percent to R162.42.

"A rising tide lifts all ships they say, so higher resources stocks leads to higher banking stocks," said Redelinghuys.

"We saw the People's Bank of China (POBC) ease monetary policy yesterday and I believe that resources at large and resources stocks in general are still feeling the positive effects of this subtle stimulus."

The benchmark Top-40 index rose 1.9 percent to 44,620 points while the broader All-share index gained 1.8 percent to 50,315.

Trading was subdued with 274 million shares changing hands, compared to last year's daily average of 296 million shares, according to preliminary bourse data.