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Rand ticks lower as Moody's stokes downgrade fears

By 1500 GMT, the rand was 0.41% weaker at 15.0420 per dollar, its weakest level since 10 February.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand extended losses on Tuesday to touch a fresh one-week low after rating agency Moody’s cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa, raising fears that the country may lose its last investment-grade rating.

By 1500 GMT, the rand was 0.41% weaker at 15.0420 per dollar, its weakest level since 10 February.

Moody’s on Monday cut its 2020 GDP growth for South Africa to 0.7%, partly due to the impact of rolling power outages on manufacturing and mining activity.

The ratings agency left South Africa on the brink of “junk” status in November last year after it revised the outlook on the country’s last investment-grade credit rating to “negative”.

“Moody’s latest move should further heighten the rand’s sensitivity to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech on February 26,” said Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM.

“If the budget speech fails to offer the detail and insight Moody’s seek, South Africa could lose its last investment-grade credit rating – something that may send the rand tumbling.”

Bonds also weakened, with the yield on the 2030 bond up 3 basis points to 8.93%.

Stocks closed down, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Top-40 Index falling 0.83% to 51,922 points, and the broader all-share index losing 0.81% to close at 57,714 points.

Gold stocks were among the only winners of the day on the blue-chip index, with Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti rising 3.7% and 2% respectively.

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