Johannesburg - South Africa's rand gained
against the dollar on Tuesday, bouncing from 5-week lows as
exporters came in the market and sentiment towards risky assets
improved in late trade.
Stocks rose for the first time in three sessions as
FirstRand [JSE:FSR] finished up nearly 3 percent after South
Africa's second-largest bank said it would pay a special
Wide gyrations were the order of the day on both the rand
and bonds as investors wavered between taking on or dumping
Reports that the Brics (Russia, Brazil, India, China and
South Africa) group of emerging countries could possibly buy
euro zone sovereign debt helped risk appetite but market players
were still nervous.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will brief the media on Wednesday, and the market will watch for any comments
on whether South Africa is contemplating buying euro zone debt.
South African government bonds weakened sharply, with yields
rising by more than 30 basis points to multi-week highs at one
stage, hit by profit-taking after strong gains in the previous
Those sharp losses could be temporary though, and bonds may
consolidate, because data from the Reserve Bank showed the pace
of spending in the economy slowed, which suggests that another
rate cut could very well be on the cards.
The rand was trading at 7.33 to the dollar at 1535
GMT, 0.8% firmer than Monday's New York close of 7.4050.
The rand flirted with the 2011 low at 7.50 overnight,
falling to 7.4750 on heightened risk appetite.
Exporters took advantage of those levels to sell dollar,
capping rand losses especially around the 7.40 area.
A close below 7.30 could be an indication that the rand's
fall may have been overdone and it could retrace back to the
early 7.20, said Ion de Vleeschauwer, chief dealer at Bidvest.
Citi said in a note to clients the rand looked oversold and
its fair-value level at 7.23 although further risk aversion
would adjust that to a weaker level.
Investors returned to shares of Shoprite and other index
heavyweights that had been hit in the previous session's
sell-off, although nervous sentiment capped wider gains.
The Top 40 (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index of blue chips was up 0.8%
at 26 735.39, while the broader All Share [JSE:J203] index ended 0.6% higher at 30 032.71.
"FirstRand, with the special dividend that seemed to help it
quite a bit and banks did relatively better today compared to
the rest of the market," said Mitchell Gannaway, a trader at
"There just doesn't seem to be any straight direction for
the market ... With volatile markets like this, you've got to
get out quickly before it turns."
FirstRand rose 2.7% to R20.70, the bank said it
would pay a special dividend of 70 cents per share after selling
off stakes in two insurance units. It also posted a 22%
rise in full-year profit.
Generic drugs maker Aspen Pharmacare Holdings [JSE:APN] rose 2%
to 88.80 rand after the company reported a 20% rise in
profit and said it could spend up to $800m on an
On fixed income, the yield on the 2015 bond was up
15.5 basis points on the day at 6.845, after spiking to 7.01% earlier.
The 2026 yield went up 14 basis points on the day
to 8.30%, also off a session high of 8.5%.
"There's some portfolio shifting going on after that
unbelievable rally. People are going to equities but you can
expect bonds to gain again once you see equities falling,"
Bidvest's de Vleeschauwer said.
The yield curve has flattened by between 30 and 50 basis
points in the past two months, on rising expectations that the
Reserve Bank may cut interest rates further from 30 year-lows
given the weak global and local economy.