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Rand steadies ahead of manufacturing data

The rand steadied against the dollar early on Thursday, as investors awaited the latest manufacturing figures for clues on the health of the economy, amid a severe power crunch that has dimmed growth outlook.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand steadied against the dollar early on Thursday, as investors awaited the latest manufacturing figures for clues on the health of the economy, amid a severe power crunch that has dimmed growth outlook.

At 0630 GMT, the rand traded at R14.1800 per dollar, not far off its previous close of R14.1760.

South Africa’s troubled state power utility Eskom said it would continue to cut power until Friday after losing generating capacity overnight, with emergency reserves insufficient to meet daytime demand.

Eskom has been battling since 2007 to keep the lights on in the continent’s most industrialised economy, enforcing several rounds of extensive power cuts, disrupting supplies to businesses and households across the country.

Beyond the power cuts, South African-focused investors will eye December business confidence data at 0930 GMT and November manufacturing data due at 1100 GMT.

Manufacturing was one of the sectors hit hard by a combination of low demand and the uncertainty over power supply in the third quarter of 2019. Gross domestic product (GDP) in that quarter shrank 0.6%.

Away from home, market focus remained on the United States and Iran tensions, which seemed to be easing for now.

US President Donald Trump responded overnight to an Iranian attack on US forces with sanctions, not violence. Iran offered no immediate signal it would retaliate further to a 3 January US strike that killed one of its senior military commanders.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down 4 basis points to 8.21%.