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Rand weaker as power cuts weigh on sentiment

At 1630 GMT, the rand was down 0.51% at 14.6790 per dollar compared to a close of 14.6050 on Friday.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rand weakened on Monday, pressed lower by weak Chinese export data that dented risk appetite and a fifth straight day of nationwide power cuts by utility Eskom as heavy rains and flooding caused failures at multiple power plants.

At 1630 GMT, the rand was down 0.51% at 14.6790 per dollar compared to a close of 14.6050 on Friday.

State utility Eskom on Monday said it would cut up to 6,000 megawatts (MW) of power from the national grid as heavy rain and flooding triggered failures at its Medupi plant.

The utility had earlier said it would cut 4,000 MW from the grid as it entered a fifth day of rotational blackouts.

That added to pressure from uneasy global risk mood after China’s exports in November shrank for the fourth consecutive month, underscoring persistent pressures on manufacturers from the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Beyond the power cuts and trade war investors will eye the raft of data releases this week with manufacturing and mining production, consumer prices and retail sales all due.

On the bourse, stocks closed down slightly with the blue-chip Johannesburg Stock Exchange Top-40 Index slipping 0.09% to 49,020 points and the broader all-share index losing 0.07% to 55,269 points.

Retail and financial firms, which are sensitive to negative economic sentiment, were the biggest losers on the blue-chip index.

Grocer Woolworths Holdings Ltd, fashion store the Foschini Group and pharmacist Clicks were down 1.88%, 1.68% and 1.56% respectively, while lenders Standard Bank , Investec and Discovery closed 1.33%, 1.24% and 1.2% lower respectively.

Bonds were firmer with the yield on the benchmark 10-year government issue down 5.5 basis points to 8.37%.

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