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Rand flat with annual budget hours away

The rand was largely flat against the dollar on Wednesday, a few hours before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni presents the annual budget laying out government plans to resolve a crisis at state-run power firm Eskom.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand was largely flat against the dollar on Wednesday, a few hours before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni presents the annual budget laying out government plans to resolve a crisis at state-run power firm Eskom.

At 0552 GMT, the rand was 0.07% weaker at R14.0525 per dollar compared with the previous close.

Cash-strapped Eskom implemented some of the worst-planned blackouts in years last week, shaking confidence in South Africa’s ability to power the continent’s most industrialised economy and hitting the rand.

Mboweni is expected to announce a bailout for the utility, which supplies 90% of South Africa’s power and has government guarantees for most of its R420 billion ($29.86 billion) in debt, in his budget speech which kicks off at 1200 GMT.

Standard Bank rand trader Warrick Butler said how the plan for Eskom is received by credit ratings agencies, particularly Moody’s which is the only one to maintain an investment-grade rating for South Africa, will be key.

“Will this budget be a stretch too far for them? Who knows, but I for one am a little worried,” he wrote.

Before the budget, at 0800 GMT, South Africa’s statistics office, Statistics South Africa, will also publish consumer price inflation and core inflation data.

Government bonds were also flat, with the yield on the benchmark government paper due in 2026 easing 0.5 basis points to 8.870%.

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