S.African rand hits 1-month low as domestic, global risks increase


Adds latest prices, analyst comments

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 3 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand tumbled more than 1% to its weakest in a month on Monday as concerns over the domestic economy compounded fears over a rise in global COVID-19 cases.

At 1630 GMT the rand ZAR=D3 was 1.56% weaker at 17.3400 per dollar, its weakest since July, leading emerging market losses on the day as investors globally opted out of riskier assets with the coronavirus surge showing no signs of easing.

Local COVID-19 cases passed 500,000 infections over the weekend, while global infection hit the 18 million mark.

A gauge of manufacturing activity in South Africa published on Monday showed a slow improvement. New car sales also continued to plummet, down nearly 30% in July.

"The uneven nature of the recovery will continue to trip up market sentiment, and so cause EM currency volatility, in particular reflected by the rand, with unexpected data readings having marked impacts," chief economist at Investec Annabel Bishop said in a note.

Rand implied volatility gauges jumped to their highest since late June, suggesting rand specific risks were on the rise. The one year gauge ZAR1YO=FN rose to 16.2%, its highest point since June 18, data from Fenics showed.

Bonds fared slightly better, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue adding 3.5 basis points to 9.28%.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) reversed some of its losses from the previous two trading sessions, aided by improved earnings in the United States and strong factory data from Europe.

The FTSE/JSE All Share Index .JALSH rose 0.31% to 55,897 points while the FTSE/JSE Top-40 Companies Index .JTOPI rose 0.39% to 51,572 points.

The biggest gainer on the top 40 companies' index was retailer Shoprite Holdings SHPJ.J which gained over 8% on news that the company would exit from the Nigerian market.

The gold index .JGLDX, up 113% this year, slipped 0.87% as global bullion prices fell on profit-taking and a rising dollar. Banks also remained weak, with the banking index .JBANK down 4.82%.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana, Promit Mukherjee and Tom Arnold. Editing by Jane Merriman)

((mfuneko.toyana@thomsonreuters.com; +27117753153; Reuters Messaging: mfuneko.toyana.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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