Johannesburg - The rand firmed against the dollar on Wednesday, tracking a stronger euro after a successful treasury bill sale in Greece raised hopes the debt-ridden eurozone member would avoid a default.
The market will be keeping an eye on local retail sales data due out later in the day and any surprises could hit the rand, though growth is expected to be healthy.
The rand was at R8.7570/$ at 08:59, up 0.4% from the previous day's close. It fell to a one-month low on Tuesday as the looming fiscal cliff in the US and a dispute among Greece's international lenders over how to reduce its debt fuelled risk aversion.
But after Greece on Tuesday raised most of the funds it needed to avoid a default on €5bn of maturing T-bills, the rand rallied, mirroring the euro's recovery.
"The euro retraced some of its losses yesterday, which has helped the rand marginally," said Brigid Taylor, head of institutional sales at Nedbank.
Statistics South Africa is due to release retail sales figures for September at 13:00. Retail sales growth accelerated to 6.4% year-on-year in August compared with a revised 2.9% in July, and similar levels are expected for September.
"We're operating in a low interest rate environment which largely supports retail sales," said Nilan Morar, head of trading at Global Trader. "It's expected that these retail sales numbers gradually tick higher as we move into the Christmas season."
Government bonds were steady with the yields on the 2026 bond and the 2015 paper barely changed at 7.680% and 5.475% respectively.Click here
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