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Rand gains after Zuma says he will address nation

The rand had gained 0.6 percent to 14.6800 per dollar, notching up a fourth straight day of gains.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand capped a stellar week on Friday, trading at its firmest levels in three months against the dollar as an emerging market rally and political events helped the unit shrug off worrying local data.

By 1630 GMT the rand had gained 0.6 percent to 14.6800 per dollar, notching up a fourth straight day of gains to end the local session up nearly 5 percent for the week.

The currency gained after President Jacob Zuma said he would address the nation in response to Thursday's Constitutional Court finding that he was liable for a portion of the R240 million spent on his personal residence.

The rand held to gains despite better than expected employment data from the United States that temporarily stoked bets of interest rate hike there soon.

The unit was helped by a record tax collection for the past financial year, which Treasury said was up R200 billion.

Government bonds also firmer, with benchmark 2026 issue cutting 1 basis point to 9.125 percent.

With sentiment over the past few weeks dragged down by investors' worries about political stability, a Constitutional Court decision on Thursday censuring Zuma for spending state money on his personal residence cheered the currency.

Stocks ended lower on the first trading day of the second quarter as weaker oil prices added to resurgent worries about the health of the global economy.

The blue-chip JSE Top-40 index was down 1.4 percent to 45,485 and the All-share index, the broadest measure of the South African stock market performance, lost 1.27 percent to 51,584.

The equity market is little changed so far this year as investors fearing a China-led global economic slowdown refrained from making aggressive bets.

Bourse and mining heavyweight Anglo American was down 3.7 percent at R111.25 and rival BHP Billiton lost 2.5 percent to R161.80.

Trade volumes were slow with more than 234 million shares changing hands, below last year's daily average of 296 million shares.