Rand, stocks weaker after Fed hawkish comment

Johannesburg — The rand retreated for a third consecutive session on Friday to its weakest level in a week against the dollar while stocks also fell, both assets pressured by signs the US central bank could still lift rates this year.

By 16:00 GMT the rand had slid 0.9 percent to 13.5065 per dollar, following a close at 13.3860 overnight in New York.

Comments on Thursday by a top Federal Reserve official supporting an interest rate increase as early as September boosted the dollar, putting emerging currencies on the backfoot, with the rand among the biggest losers in the session.

Gold prices also fell sharply, by as much 1.5 percent at one stage, adding further pressure on commodity-linked currencies. On the bourse, stocks were also lower, with bank and retail shares also hit by the hawkish Fed.

“The theme the whole week was what the Fed is going to do in terms of the rate hike,” BP Bernstein trader Vasili Tirasis said.

“The negative movement was in line with the thinking of the Fed hiking rates.”

The benchmark Top-40 index was down 0.41 percent to 45 877 points and the broader All-share index was 0.41 percent lower at 52 771.

Shares in South Africa’s second biggest lender by market value, Standard Bank, dropped 1.93 percent to R15. Food retailer Shoprite slid 1.25 percent to R202.

Pharmaceutical producer Adcock Ingram Holdings gained 3.98 percent to R47.05 after reporting a 41.9 percent to 43 percent increase in earnings in their interim results.

Trade was subdued with around 238 million shares changing hands, compared with last year’s daily average of 296 million, according to preliminary bourse data.

Government bonds were also weaker, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 rising 7 basis points to 8.475 percent. — Fin24

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