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#RandReport: Rand recovers, stocks rise but Steinhoff stumbles

The rand largely ignored local data showing mining and manufacturing industries contracted in March, threatening to reverse a fragile economic rebound.

FILE: Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand recovered on Thursday, firming more than 1.5% against the dollar as the greenback fell after weaker than forecast US inflation data pared market expectations of a faster interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve.

At 15.08 GMT, the rand traded at 12.3650 per dollar, 1.51% firmer than its close on Wednesday, rebounding after three straight sessions of losses.

The dollar edged away from 2018 highs on Thursday as US consumer prices increased less than expected in April, paring traders’ optimism inflation is accelerating which would allow for faster Fed interest rates hikes.

The rand largely ignored local data showing mining and manufacturing industries contracted in March, threatening to reverse a fragile economic rebound.

“The uptrend in the USD has cooled off and that has provided most emerging markets on the currency and rates front to recover some of the lost ground,” said Halen Bothma, an analyst at ETM Analytics.

“It doesn’t look like the depressing (local) data prints had much of an influence.”

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 6.5 basis points to 8.39%, reflecting firmer prices.

The equities market also ended in positive territory as world stocks hit three-week highs with rising oil prices lifting energy counters.

But shares in troubled retailer Steinhoff fell almost 14% at one point and ended 3.9% lower after the company said a probe by auditors PwC found previous overstatements of its profits may result in additional material impairments.

Steinhoff, which runs chains such as Britain’s Poundland, Mattress Firm in the United States and Conforama in France, is fighting for its survival after discovering irregularities in its accounts in December.

Overall, the benchmark Top-40 index added 0.42% to 51,493.07 while the broader All-share index closed 0.16% higher at 58,005.62.