Market News

South African rand inches up ahead of Fed chair Powell's speech -

FEBRUARY 07, 2023

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 7 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand inched higher against the dollar on Tuesday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that could provide further clues on the U.S. interest rate hike path.

At 1545 GMT, the rand traded at 17.6400 against the dollar, about 0.11% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar rose to a one-month peak against a basket of six major currencies and was last up 0.21% at 103.82 , after traders raised their forecasts for how high the Fed might raise interest rates.

Powell is set to deliver a speech at the Economic Club of Washington later on Tuesday, where investors will be keen to hear his take on the labour market.

The domestic focus this week is on Cyril Ramaphosa's annual State of the Nation Address on Thursday amid local media reports of a possible cabinet reshuffle by the South African President.

However, analysts have cautioned against expecting any major announcements and reforms, even as South Africa grapples with daily power outages.

"Markets anticipate little game changing reforms, with many past priorities unfulfilled and the economic environment instead deteriorating on weakening infrastructure," Investec analyst Annabel Bishop said in a research note.

Separately, South Africa's net foreign reserves rose to $54.844 billion in January from $53.827 billion in December, Reserve Bank figures showed.

Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were little changed, with both the broader all-share index (.JALSH) and the top-40 index (.JTOPI) closing not far from their previous close.

South Africa's biggest cement maker PPC Ltd (PPCJ.J) ended 20.23% higher after Bloomberg reported that it was considering selling its Zimbabwe business for about $200 million.

The government's benchmark 2030 bond was weaker, with the yield up 6 basis point at 9.760%.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton and Bhargav Acharya with additional reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Alexander Smith


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