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Despite load shedding, rand continues to firm

Oct 18 2019 11:54
Jan Cronje

When the latest round of load shedding was announced by Eskom on Wednesday, the rand immediately fell to over R15/$. But the local currency has been strengthening since then, and Friday's news of a slowdown in Chinese economic growth has not caused it to weaken again.

In a note to clients on Friday morning, Andre Botha, a senior dealer at TreasuryONE, said the rand and currencies of fellow emerging markets appeared, for the moment, "unperturbed" by latest data showing Chinese GDP growth slowed to a near 30-year low as US trade tariffs hit production.

China's third-quarter GDP rose 6% year-on-year, down 0.2% from the second quarter.

The local currency, which fell to under R15/$ in intraday trade earlier in the week after a broken coal conveyor belt at Medupi power station caused severe generation constraints, was trading at R14.76 to the greenback on Friday morning, up 0.5% on the day.

It is now again around the level it was on Tuesday before the rotational power outages were announced. 

"The rand seems to ignore the rolling blackouts since the announcement on Wednesday and reacted to foreign events on Thursday," said Botha.

"The initial spike we saw after the [load shedding] headlines has faded, and the ZAR is keeping in line with other EMs. The focus will remain on the trade talks between China and the US while the pound will have a crucial day on Saturday when parliament votes on the agreement struck with the EU."

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