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Rand falls on subdued risk appetite

Locally, focus this week will mainly be on the South African Reserve Bank interest rates decision on Thursday.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand fell in early trade on Monday amid subdued risk appetite after a shock contraction in Chinese exports pointed to deepening cracks in the world’s second-biggest economy, raising fears of a sharper slowdown in global growth.

At 0618 GMT, the rand traded at R13.9175 per dollar, 0.6% weaker than its New York close on Friday of R13.8350.

“ZAR traded slightly weaker this morning due to much weaker-than-expected Chinese exports and imports figures for December,” analysts at NKC African Economics said in a note.

Latest data from China showed imports contracted 7.6% year-on-year in December when analysts had predicted a 5% rise while exports unexpectedly dropped 4.4%, confounding expectations for a 3% gain.

The disappointing numbers reinforced fears US tariffs on Chinese goods were starting to take a heavy toll on China’s already cooling economy.

Locally, focus this week will mainly be on the South African Reserve Bank interest rates decision on Thursday. The bank is expected to hold rates at 6.75%, according to a Reuters poll.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 added 5 basis points to 8.82% in early trade.

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