#RandReport: Rand slips, stocks gain after surprise rate cut

At 1515 GMT, the rand was fetching 13.01/dlr, 0.65% weaker compared to its New York close.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand shed as much as one percent against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark lending rate for the first time in five years.

At 1515 GMT, the rand was fetching 13.01/dlr, 0.65% weaker compared to its New York close. It earlier fell over 1% to 13.065/dlr, its lowest level in almost a week.

The 25 basis point cut to 6.75% makes the rand less attractive compared to other currencies as the yield that can be reaped from local rates has now narrowed on the global stage. "The rand weakened because of the effect on the
differentials with developed markets who are beginning to hike rates," said Halen Bothma, an economist at ETM Analytics.

Twenty-four of 27 economists polled by Reuters had forecast the bank would hold rates at 7.00%. Two predicted a 25-basis-point cut and one expected the repo rate to be cut by half a percent. Governor Lesetja Kganyago cited weak growth and easing inflation as key factors behind the decision and denied the bank was affected by recent
political attacks against its mandate to contain inflation and protect the currency.

Bonds firmed, with the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 falling 10 basis points to 8.55%.

Stocks rose, with local retailers bolstered by rate cut. The biggest advancers on the day were Fashion chain Truworths International, which rose over 4%, and Wal-Mart unit Massmart, adding 3.8%.

South Africa's benchmark Top-40 index closed 0.34% higher at 47,748.68 while the wider All-share index added 0.36% to 54,287.32.