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#RandReport: Rand climbs to five-month high on dovish Fed

At 1430 GMT the rand was 0.6% firmer at 13.2400 per dollar, bring gains since Wednesday to more than 2.6%.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand gained to its highest in nearly six months on Thursday as the United States central bank kept lending rates unchanged and hinted it would hold off on cutting interest rates, fuelling global demand for risk assets.

At 1430 GMT the rand was 0.6% firmer at 13.2400 per dollar, bring gains since Wednesday to more than 2.6% as the unit broke through crucial technical resistance levels on its way to its best since 8 August.

“The tone of the (Fed) statement certainly caused a surprise in financial markets with the rand one of the main beneficiaries overnight,” said Warrick Butler, chief trader at Standard Bank.

The rand’s surge began overnight as the Federal Reserve concluded its two-day policy meeting. It left rates unchanged and said it would be “patient” before making any further moves, dropping its previous message of “further gradual increases”.

The rand strengthened to 13.3200 from 13.61 overnight and on Thursday rallied to 13.2400, below the 200-week moving average. That flushed out remaining bears as the bulls-eyed a sub-13 rally before next week’s annual address by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the budget later in the month.

“The global outlook certainly supports the carry trade for now and with S.A.’s very high real rates and lower political volatility, the environment for investment is still favourable,” Butler said in a note.

In stocks, the blue-chip Top-40 index was off 0.13% to 47,910 and the broader All-share index was little changed at 54,115.

Vodacom was up 0.7% to R120.58, shrugging off protests at its headquarters over compensation for a former employee who developed a call-back messaging service.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond dropped 15.5 basis points to 8.585%, its lowest since mid-July.