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Rand firms despite risk-off mood, equities fall

Global risk sentiment cooled after industrial production growth in China slowed more sharply than expected in October, while retail sales fell short of prediction and investment growth hit a record low.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rand firmed on Thursday, bucking a risk-off trend in global markets, but equities were pulled lower on weak Chinese data and doubts about whether Beijing and Washington will reach a trade deal anytime soon.

At 1525 GMT, the rand was 0.85% firmer at 14.7860 per dollar.

“Although investor appetite towards riskier assets continues to be strained by fading trade optimism and global growth concerns, this is not being reflected in the rand today,” Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM said in a note.

“Given how the local currency remains buoyed....further upside could be on the cards in the near term,” he added.

Global risk sentiment cooled after industrial production growth in China slowed more sharply than expected in October, while retail sales fell short of prediction and investment growth hit a record low.

Doubts about whether the United States and China will be able to reach a preliminary trade deal once again resurfaced after the Wall Street Journal reported Beijing rebuffed a farm purchase deal that looked one-sided in favour of the United States.

“The rand’s medium to longer-term outlook is poised to be influenced by not only domestic data but external drivers in the form of the Dollar’s valuation, US rate cut expectations and most importantly trade developments,” Otunuga said.

The Top-40 share index fell 0.21% while the broader all-share edged 0.27% lower.

Among the biggest decliners on the blue-chip index were Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which fell 2%, and telecoms major MTN Group Ltd, which dropped 1.85%.

The yield on the benchmark 2026 government bond was down 2.7 basis points at 8.43%.

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