South Africa's rand firms as Fed cut bets spur buying, stocks steady


Adds latest prices, analyst comments

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 9 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand rallied to a 5-week high on Monday on global demand for riskier assets as investors bet the United States central bank would cut lending rates next week.

At 1600 GMT the rand ZAR=D3 was 0.4% firmer at 14.7650 per dollar, retreating from a session-best 14.6700, but still its firmest level since Aug. 2.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Friday the central bank will continue to act "as appropriate" to sustain economic expansion in the world's biggest economy, a phrase financial markets have read as signalling further interest-rate cuts.

Powell's remarks came as the Chinese central bank moved on Friday to cut how much cash banks must hold in reserve, releasing liquidity to shore up an economy hit by the Sino-U.S. trade conflict.

"The rand continues to gain momentum as increased risk appetite is driving flows towards emerging markets," said Bianca Botes, analyst at Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

"Expected stimuli by both the Fed and the ECB will be conducive to the drive stronger," Botes added.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to introduce a new wave of monetary stimulus on Thursday.

Bonds also ended firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 issue ZAR186= down 2.5 basis points to 8.125%.

In equities, stocks were flat with the broader All-share index .JALSH down 0.12% to 55,523 points, while the blue chip Top-40 index fell 0.14% to 49,602 points.

The bourse wobbled after e-commerce giant Naspers NPNJn.J slipped 1% to 3528.34 rand and gold stocks .JGLDX shed 5.01% as investors ditched the safe-haven asset.

Gold producer Harmony HARJ.J fell 5.48% to 48.46 rand, Gold Fields GFIJ.J shed 5.37% to 75.84 rand, while Sibanye Stillwater SGLJ.J fell 4.85% to 17.67 rand, and AngloGold Ashanti ANGJ.J declined 4.84% to 303.45 rand.

"Gold is being sold off," said Mike Westerhof, equity trader at AG Capital. "The rand strength also seems to be keeping gold stocks under pressure."

Telecoms firm MTN MTNJ.J, which had to close some of its Nigerian stores last week as protesters targeted it in retaliation for violence aimed at foreigners in Johannesburg, was still feeling the aftermath.

Its shares were down 2.72% to 100.76 rand.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Onke Ngcuka; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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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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