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Rand slips to new 11-month worst as local politics weigh

At 1515 GMT, the rand was 0.5% weaker at 15.3375 per dollar, its weakest since 6 September 2018.

Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand weakened on Monday, stretching losses to a new 11-month low as political uncertainty and a bleak economic outlook were worsened by uncertainty over the chances of a resolution to the trade standoff between Beijing and Washington.

At 1515 GMT, the rand was 0.5% weaker at 15.3375 per dollar, its weakest since 6 September 2018.

The rand hit a session-worst 15.4550 as sentiment toward emerging markets was soured by President Donald Trump saying on Friday he was not ready to make a deal with China and called a September round of trade talks into question.

“The rand, as both a commodity and EM currency, has weakened on the worsening in the trade relationship between the US and China, due to the implications for global economic growth,” said chief economist at Investec Annabel Bishop in a note.

The rand, however, has also been pressured by a souring local economic and political atmosphere.

Worries about the impact on the economy of heavily-indebted state-owned energy firm Eskom and negative commentary from credit rating agencies, and an ongoing legal wrangle between President Cyril Ramaphosa and the anti-corruption ombudsman have seen the rand shed nearly 10% in two weeks.

Ramaphosa won the latest round of a legal battle with South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog on Monday, as a judge delayed implementation of findings linked to its claim that he misled parliament about a leadership campaign donation.

But the lingering charges and hostility from factions within his ruling African National Congress have raised fears Ramaphosa may be distracted from his pledge to revive stalling economic growth.

Bonds were also weaker, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 government issue up 9 basis points to 8.485%.

Stocks ended a touch weaker, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Top-40 index down 0.21% while the broader All-Share index was 0.29% lower, dragged down by global recession fears linked to the US-China trade spat.

Pharmaceutical firm Aspen was down 10.2% to R75.91 as the fallout from last week’s announcement that the company’s talks with a potential European partner had failed continued to hurt the stock.

On the upside paper-maker, Sappi climbed 12.88% to R45.85, while miners Goldfields, AngloGold, and petrochemical giant Sasol all made strong gains on the day.

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