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Rand firms after trade data, stocks rise

At 1550 GMT the rand was 0.78% firmer at 17.7700 to the dollar.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed against the dollar on Tuesday as strong trade balance numbers lifted the pressure on a currency which had plunged a day earlier following a sovereign credit rating downgrade, while stocks also closed higher.

At 1550 GMT the rand was 0.78% firmer at 17.7700 to the dollar.

South Africa’s trade balance recorded a surplus of R14.15 billion ($796.55 million) in February compared with a revised R2.72 billion deficit in January, data from the revenue service showed.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a R2 billion surplus for February.

The positive trade figures were a relief for the currency, which fell to an all-time low on Monday after Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s debt to “junk” late on Friday, with market anxiety over coronavirus adding to the pressure.

Bonds also firmed, with the 10-year government bond’s yield falling 62.5 basis points to 10.965%.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Top-40 index rose 2.47% to 40,738.57 points and the All-Share index climbed 2.48% to 44,490.31 points.

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