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South Africa's stocks and rand slump on risk off market sentiment

Credit: REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE

South African stocks kicked off Monday on the back foot, hitting their lowest in more than three months as rising COVID-19 infection rates in Europe kept risk assets under pressure, while the rand weakened 3%.

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JOHANNESBURG, Sept 21 (Reuters) - South African stocks kicked off Monday on the back foot, hitting their lowest in more than three months as rising COVID-19 infection rates in Europe kept risk assets under pressure, while the rand weakened 3%.

The Johannesburg All-share index .JALSH hit a session low of 53,067 points earlier, a level last hit on June 17 before paring loses to trade 2.04% weaker to 53,559 points at 1345 GMT. The Top-40 index .JTOPI fell 2.04% to 49,370 points.

Investors looked past easing lockdown regulations at home and dropped risky assets, a trend seen in equities globally on Monday.

"Investors are becoming increasingly worried about the momentum in the economic recovery given the resurgent numbers of global COVID-19 cases and lack of progress on a new U.S. stimulus package," Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM said in a note

"Given that the list of uncertainties is growing, especially on the pandemic front, risk is now skewed to the downside."

European countries including Denmark, Greece and Spain have introduced new restrictions on activity.

Among the decliners were mobile operator MTN Group MTNJ.J down 4.74% and chemicals and energy company Sasol SOLJ.J down 3.25% as oil prices fell. O/L

Other sectors included banks .JBAN down 1.49%, general retailers .JGERE down 2.93% and commodity stocks .JMINI down 1.99%.

In the currency market, the rand ZAR=D3 moved off the six-month best mark of 16.0950 it had hit after the local central bank decided on Thursday to keep lending rates unchanged after an easing cycle involving 300 basis points of cuts.

A global emerging currency selloff on Monday meant that the rand the rand weakened 3% to 16.7150 per dollar by 1343 GMT compared to a close of 16.3350 on Friday in New York.

"Today's move shows how our domestic currency remains at mercy of sudden bouts of global market volatility, despite the suggestion that the rand may be undervalued on a longer term basis," IG senior market analyst Shaun Murison said.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, Mfuneko Toyana and Tumelo Modiba; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Philippa Fletcher)

((Tumelo.modiba@thomsonreuters.com 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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