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Rand firms in subdued start for emerging markets

With local mining, manufacturing and business confidence data due later this week, the rand is set to take its lead from the British parliamentary vote on Tuesday on whether to go ahead with the country’s exit plan from the European Union.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed in early trade on Monday, helped by increasing demand for emerging market currencies as returns on offer in developed market assets faltered following poor data last week.

At 0700 GMT the rand was 0.05% firmer at R14.4275 per dollar, moving higher in tandem with Asian peers in subdued volumes, with investors awaiting developments in trade talks between Washington and Beijing and Brexit.

Employment growth in the United States for February came in much weaker than expected last week triggering a revival in demand for risk assets as US Treasury yields and the dollar dived.

That allowed the rand to move away from two-month lows, although the currency remains vulnerable to domestic risks mainly linked to power utility Eskom and the threat it poses to the country’s sovereign credit risk.

With local mining, manufacturing and business confidence data due later this week, the rand is set to take its lead from the British parliamentary vote on Tuesday on whether to go ahead with the country’s exit plan from the European Union.

Bonds started the day flat with yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 steady at 8.675%.

In stocks big-four lender Absa reported a 1 percent dip in full-year headline earnings for 2018, linked to the R3.2 billion ($221.77 million) in costs related to its separation from British lender Barclays.

South Africa’s second-largest insurer Old Mutual said profit dropped 12% on an adjusted basis in 2018 as tough economic conditions weighed.

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