South Africa's rand firmer as risk selloff pauses, stocks down


Updates prices

JOHANNESBURG, May 20 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand firmed on Monday after a sharp slide in the previous week as a global sell-off in risk assets slowed, with investors positioning for an event-packed week.

Stocks weakened, led by bourse heavyweight and e-commerce group Naspers NPNJn.J.

At 1510 GMT the rand ZAR=D3 was 0.52% firmer at 14.3725 per dollar compared with its Friday close of 14.4475 in New York.

Last week the rand and other emerging market currencies weakened as the trade spat between Beijing and Washington worsened, while solid economic data from the United States also pushed money towardsthe greenback.

The rand shed close to 2 percent in the previous week but remained one of the better performing emerging currencies as the post-election positivity limited losses, with investors awaiting the announcement of a new cabinet.

Before the announcement by incoming President Cyril Ramaphosa after this weekend's inauguration, Statistics South Africa publishes consumer inflation data on Wednesday and the central bank decides on lending rates on Thursday.

Investors also await developments in U.S.-China trade negotiations and the Federal Reserve minutes that may give more clues on what prompted U.S. policymakers to strike a broadly neutral stance this month.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark 10-year South African government bond due in 2026 ZAR186= fell 1.5 basis points to 8.5%.

On the bourse, the Johannesburg all-share index .JALSH fell 1.01 percent to 55,617 points, while the Top-40 index .JTOPI was 1.06 percent lower at 49,551 points.

Naspers led the market lower, down 3.29 percent to 3,210 rand after losses in Hong Kong technology giant Tencent 0700.HK, in which it has a 31 percent stake.

"All the tech shares in China have come under pressure and our whole market is built on Naspers," said Greg Davies, equities trader at Cratos Capital.

A U.S. crackdown on China's Huawei Technologies HWT.UL stoked concerns about an escalating fallout in the U.S.-China trade dispute, hitting stock markets.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Tanisha Heiberg Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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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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