Johannesburg - South Africa's trade deficit widened more than expected to R21.2bn in October from R13.8bn in September as imports of machinery, vehicles and aircraft rose, the South African Revenue Service said on Friday.
Exports increased by 7.8% month-on-month to R61.1bn while imports jumped 16.7% to R82.3bn, SARS data showed.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a trade shortfall of R15.35bn for October but the data is volatile and thus difficult to forecast.
"It's obviously a shock, a massive 27% increase in machinery and equipment imports, now that is a very broad area," said Satnlib economist Kevin Lings.
"It includes a whole lot of stuff that we would bring into this country ahead of the Christmas season. That would certainly be one of the factors that is contributing into this.
"So think of it as a build up of inventory ahead of the end of the year season, certainly contributed to the increase in imports.
"We're staring at a very big current account deficit for the fourth quarter of the year and we can see that in the rand, that has come under pressure. Clearly it's improved a little bit more recently, but this all just means that the rand is at risk."
The rand fell to R8.8047/$ by 14:18 from R8.76 before the data was released at 14:00.
The yield on the 2026 bond was up at 7.585% from 7.555%.
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