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Rand steady, stocks open lower

The rand held steady against the US dollar early on Thursday, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced further easing of the coronavirus lockdown to help the battered economy.

South African rand.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand held steady against the US dollar early on Thursday, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced further easing of the coronavirus lockdown to help the battered economy.

At 0700 GMT, the rand traded at R17.1900 per dollar, unchanged from its previous close.

Ramaphosa said in a speech on Wednesday that restaurants will now be allowed to offer sit-down service. Cinemas, casinos, theatres, hair salons and spas will be allowed to open under strict social-distancing rules. A date for their re-opening will be announced in due course, Ramaphosa said.

The further easing of restrictions, however, comes amid a sharp rise in the coronavirus infections in South Africa. Confirmed cases are at 80,412 and deaths at 1,674, with the increase in the past couple of weeks accounting for a third of total cases, Ramaphosa said.

Globally, there are also growing concerns about a rise in coronavirus cases.

A surge in new coronavirus infections in several US states and the imposition of travel curbs in Beijing to stop a new outbreak there indicate the risks of re-opening before a vaccine has been developed.

On the stock market, the Top-40 index was down 0.55% while the broader all-share fell 0.42% in early trade.

In fixed income, the yield on the government bond due in 2030 was up a single basis point to 9.460%.

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