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Rand holds on to gains ahead of budget

Feb 26 2014 09:41
Reuters
Johannesburg - The rand was marginally firmer against the dollar on Wednesday, building on four days of gains caused by stronger-than-expected growth at the end of last year and expectations of a solid 2014 budget from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The rand was at R10.72 against the dollar at 06:07 GMT, a touch firmer than Tuesday's New York close but a shade weaker than the previous session's high of R10.70, the currency's strongest level in five weeks.

Gordhan is likely to stick closely to his previous spending plans and deficit targets when he presents his budget at 12:00 GMT, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Economists expect a budget deficit of 4.2% of gross domestic product for the 2014/15 financial year, slightly wider than the 4.1% target outlined in October.

Any marked changes to these projections could affect domestic bonds and the rand, although analysts said Gordhan was unlikely to pull any surprises, particularly nasty ones, less than three months before a general election.

However, besides Gordhan's plans for this financial year, bond investors will be looking for evidence that the government remains committed to bringing the budget deficit towards more sustainable levels over the medium term.

"The finance minister will have to find some way to creditably signal to the rating agencies that even if significant fiscal consolidation will not be pencilled into the current budget, it will be achieved within the next few years," Barclays Capital economist Peter Worthington said.

Government bonds were firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 issue down 3.5 basis points at 8.510% and that on the 2015 bond 4 basis points lower at 7.070%.

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rand  |  pravin gordhan  |  markets  |  budget 2014  |  currencies
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