Latest unemployment figures push the rand back

The rand was the worst performer among its emerging market peers yesterday.

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JOHANNESBURG - The latest unemployment figures and other local economic woes have pushed the rand back to above 15 to the dollar.

The rand was the worst performer among its emerging market peers yesterday, losing more than two percent against the dollar.

The local currency continues to trade above 15 to the dollar, hurt in part by the latest jobs numbers.

The unemployment rate rose to a 12-year high of 26,7 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The rand, also hit by a stronger dollar and lower commodity prices, had gained some ground against the greenback after Moody's decision not to downgrade the country's debt and maintain its negative outlook.

Fitch and Standard & Poor's, who both have South Africa's debt just one step above subinvestment grade, are due to make their ratings decisions in June, which would potentially further weaken the rand.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday said he would seek to convince Fitch and S&P that the country is on the right economic track, but some analysts see politics as a major risk to implementation ahead of local elections in August.

"Today's employment figures are very grim, but tell us little that we didn't already know about South Africa's troubled labour market. The political impacts may be more significant," said Africa analyst at Capital Economics John Ashbourne.

Additional reporting by Reuters.