#RandReport: Rand weakens as traders book profits, stocks down

The rand hit a session low of 15.1450 and was trading 2 percent weaker at 15.1125 by 16:26pm.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's rand fell more than 2 percent against the dollar on Friday, breaching key technical support levels as lower commodity prices and concerns about global growth hit emerging markets.

Stocks were slightly weaker, despite telecoms firm MTN rallying to a six-week high after settling a fine imposed by Nigerian authorities for a less-than-expected amount.

The rand hit a session low of 15.1450, its weakest since Monday, and was trading 2 percent weaker at 15.1125 by 1626 GMT.

Analysts said the move was partly a correction after a strong rally spurred by ratings agencies' decision to uphold South Africa's investment grade status despite concerns about its lethargic economic growth.

"This pullback was to be expected," said market analyst at ETM Analytics Ricardo Da Camara.

"From a technical view the USD/ZAR was quite oversold. It looks like corporates and banks saw those levels around 14.70 as a buying opportunity."

Government bonds ended weaker as well, and the yield for debt due in 2026 was up one basis point at 9.08 percent.

On the stock market, shares in MTN rose by more than 20 percent after it said it has agreed to pay $1.67 billion to Nigerian authorities in penalties over unregistered SIM cards, down from an original fine of $5.2 billion.

"It brings certainty. The initial fine was quite significant, and this was slightly less than what people thought," said Polaris Capital analyst Steve Minnaar.

Shares in Africa's largest telecoms operator pared gains to close 13 percent higher at 140 rand.

But the bourse as a whole followed European markets lower.

The benchmark Top-40 index was 0.31 percent weaker at 47,028 points while the All-Share index was down 0.33 percent to 53,175 points.

Trade was below par with around 237 million shares changing hands, compared with last year's daily average of 296 million, according to preliminary bourse data.