SA’s trade deficit widens more than forecast, pushes rand to record lows

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s trade deficit widened more than expected in October as exports fell, official data showed on Monday, pushing the rand currency to its weakest on record against the dollar.

The data points to continued pressure on the current account deficit, traditionally covered by portfolio flows which are however expected to wane should the Federal Reserve start raising U.S. interest rates in December as forecast.

The trade gap for Africa’s most industrialised economy was at 21.39 billion rand ($1.5 billion) in October, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said, up sharply from a revised 1.26 billion rand in September.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a shortfall of just 4.9 billion rand.

The rand extended losses against the dollar to an all-time low of 14.4600 from 14.3800 after release of the data.

Exports decreased by 6 percent to 86.35 billion rand, while imports jumped by 15.7 percent to 107.74 billion rand on a month-on-month basis, SARS said.

Exports of precious metals and stones, vegetable products, mineral products and vehicle and transport equipment fell significantly during October.

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