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Rand steadies, stocks close higher

Despite the opening of an impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump this week and mixed signals on a trade deal, the dollar has remained resilient.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The rand steadied against the dollar in afternoon trade on Thursday, after hitting a new three-week low earlier in the session as the greenback rose amid optimism over a trade deal between the United States and China.

At 1540 GMT, the rand was flat at 14.9950 per dollar, after earlier hitting a session low of 15.0850 - its weakest since Sept. 4.

Despite the opening of an impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump this week and mixed signals on a trade deal, the dollar has remained resilient.

“In line with other (emerging markets) currencies, the local unit continues to buckle under the pressure of the risk-off sentiment currently gripping the market,” said Bianca Botes, Treasury Partner at Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

“Trump is making headlines, but not only for impeachment: he announced on Wednesday that a trade deal with China might be reached sooner than expected, following last week’s threats of new rounds of tariffs.”

The potential for a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies was on investors’ minds after Trump told reporters on Wednesday that the US and China were having “good conversations” and that an agreement “could happen sooner than you think”.

Beijing confirmed on Thursday it was in talks with Washington to resolve their tariff dispute.

The local bourse tracked emerging market shares higher on renewed Sino-US trade optimism, with the broader All-share index up 0.72% to 55,271 points, while the blue-chip Top-40 index rose 0.77% to 49,244 points.

Financials were among the big gainers, with the banking index rising 2.34% as Standard Bank gained 2.79% to 180.91 rand, FirstRand rose 2.73% to 64.00 rand and Absa gained 2.22% to 160.50 rand.

Lender Capitec gained 0.44% to 1281.29 rand after it said profit for the first half of the year grew 20%, in line with expectations, thanks to strong customer growth and a smaller impairment charge.

“was down this morning...so it’s come back quite a bit to trade in the green. Just a decent set of numbers, profit up 20% and the market liked the story,” said Nick Kunze, portfolio manager at Sanlam Private Wealth.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 dipped 3 basis points to 8.32%.

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