South African rand drops to 3-year low on loadshedding fears

Credit: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS

By Rachel Savage and Tannur Anders

JOHANNESBURG, May 10 (Reuters) - The South African rand plunged to a three-year low on Wednesday after a steep drop in the previous day, while international and domestic government bonds also fell, as fears grew of scheduled blackouts known as loadshedding worsening during winter.

At 0830 GMT, the rand ZAR=D3 was trading at 18.785 against the U.S. dollar, after hitting its weakest level since early May 2020 at 18.8325 earlier in the day. On Tuesday, the rand had fallen 1.7%.

South Africa's sovereign dollar bonds dropped, with longer dated maturities falling the most. The 2052 maturity fell more than 1 cent to 82.4 cents in the dollar US836205BE37=TE. The yield rose above 9%, its highest level in almost six months.

South Africa's struggling state utility Eskom told parliament on Tuesday that there would be a 45-day delay in returning a generating unit online, according to local media.

The delay is likely to add further pressure on the grid during winter, when loadshedding across most parts of the country is already more than 10 hours a day.

"SA bonds and the ZAR (rand) are underperforming their EM counterparts this morning," Kieran Siney of ETM Analytics said in emailed comments.

"Until there is a concrete plan to resolve SA's energy crisis that the market buys into, the underperformance will persist, notwithstanding the attractive yields on offer and deep undervaluation in the ZAR."

The government's local bonds also dropped, with yields on the benchmark 2030 bond rising 17 basis points to 10.5%, the highest level since December ZAR2030=.

ETM Analytics said in a separate note on Wednesday morning that misleading headlines on Tuesday had sparked the market rout by giving "the impression that was losing control of the grid".

"SA is in trouble, the grid is under pressure, Eskom does face multiple threats, but none of this is anything new," it said.

The rand is also sensitive to global risks and caution has been mounting ahead of Wednesday's U.S. Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) print scheduled for 1230 GMT.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Rachel Savage; Editing by Alexander Winning and Subhranshu Sahu)

((Tannur.Anders@thomsonreuters.com))

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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