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Rand weaker as risk demand fades before Easter, stocks up

The currency has eked out gains in the previous session after retail sales came in weak but better than forecasts.

FILE: Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s currency weakened on Thursday, losing ground against a stronger dollar as investors closed positions and took profits before the Easter holiday - while stocks took heart from rising gold prices.

The currency has eked out gains in the previous session after retail sales came in weak but better than forecasts. But by 15:00 GMT, it was back beyond the 14.00 mark against the dollar - 0.5% softer at 14.07.

“At the moment we’ve had quite a strong week and now people are just squaring in their books for their weekend,” said Sanlam Private Wealth Portfolio Manager Garth Curry.

Government bonds were flat with the yield on the benchmark 2026 bond at 8.465%.

Stocks rose as gold prices jumped aided by a global turn to safe-haven assets on renewed concerns about global growth.

Despite a weak early session, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Top-40 Index closed 0.59% higher to 52,792, while the broader All-Share Index climbed 0.53% to 59,110.

General merchandisers continued to reap the benefits of the retail data, rising 2.31%.

Top performers included Clicks which rose 5.84% to 195.46 after it said on Wednesday half-year earnings were up 13.2% on strong health and beauty product sales.

Commodities were among the top blue-chip performers, with Goldfields up 2.48% to R549 while rival AngloGold Ashanti rose 1.85% to 183.69.

The gold miners index was up 1.57% as investors turned to safe-haven assets following weak manufacturing surveys from Asia and Europe.

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