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Rand at near 9-week low; risk aversion persists on growth woes

The currency had slumped to R14.5625 on Thursday, its weakest since 3 January, as it tracked the euro lower after the ECB pushed back its forecast for an interest rate hike and offered banks more cheap loans.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand hovered close to a nine-week low against the dollar in early trade on Friday, as dovish signals from the European Central Bank (ECB) and global growth concerns hurt risk assets.

At 0630 GMT, the rand traded at R14.5450 per dollar, 0.24% weaker than its New York close of R14.5100 on Thursday.

The currency had slumped to R14.5625 on Thursday, its weakest since 3 January, as it tracked the euro lower after the ECB pushed back its forecast for an interest rate hike and offered banks more cheap loans.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark bond due in 2026 jumped 7 basis points to 8.745% in early trade.

“The ECB now joins other (developed markets) central banks with a dovish shift in the market, which should be good for risk assets in the long run,” RMB analyst Gordon Kerr wrote in a note.

“The immediate reaction is one of risk-off as the dollar makes back much of its post-FOMC losses. Poor growth prospects globally continue to remain the focus for many market participants, ensuring that risk assets remain on the back foot, as they have done for most of this week,” he added.

The currency market is bracing for further volatility ahead of US jobs data later on Friday.

Local factors such as woes at state power utility Eskom and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments in parliament on Thursday that the ruling party will press ahead with plans to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) have also weighed on sentiment.

“While the current shareholders of the SARB have no influence on the mandate of the Sarb, one cannot help but wonder whether this will remain the case once the one and only shareholder becomes a governing body that admittedly struggles to eradicate corruption in itself,” Peregrine Treasury Solutions analyst Bianca Botes said.