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#RandReport: Rand falls as risk appetite wanes, stocks up

At 1540 GMT the rand was 0.61% weaker at R12.0125 per dollar, compared to Wednesday’s close of R11.9400.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rand weakened against a stronger dollar on Thursday as rising tensions between Russia and the United States over Syria curbed risk appetite, while stocks rose led by banks.

At 1540 GMT the rand was 0.61% weaker at R12.0125 per dollar, compared to Wednesday’s close of R11.9400.

The greenback rebounded after a four-day losing streak after US President Donald Trump backed away on Thursday from promising a swift military strike against Syria, saying it “could be very soon or not so soon at all”.

“The dollar pulled back initially after President Trump’s tweet ... but that seems to have dissipated. The dollar is stronger across the board,” said Rand Merchant Bank forex trader Jan Sluis-Cremer.

Taking direction from global events, the rand largely ignored data showing mining output rose in February, pointing to continued recovery in the domestic economy, even though economists say the economic rebound will be at a slower pace following poor manufacturing data earlier in the week.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond fell 1.5 basis point to 8.08%.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index rose 0.68% to 49,809 points while the All-Share index gained 0.55% to 56,481 points.

The banking index considered the barometer of both economic sentiments, rose 1.96 percent with Standard Bank up 2.99% to R215.18 and Nedbank lifting 1.82% to R290.70.

“Generally a firmer feel about the market with less risk off and more risk on,” said Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies.

Further gains came from Steinhoff which rose 1.66% to R2.45 after it raised R3.75 billion from the sale of some of its stake in Steinhoff Africa Retail in an effort to cut debt.