The South African rand, after experiencing its most significant two-day gain since July earlier this week, has seen its rally falter as of today. The currency was trading at 18.2200 against the dollar at 0632 GMT, marking a slight decline of 0.1% from its previous close. This comes after a surge in the rand’s value following softer-than-expected US consumer inflation data released on Tuesday, which had initially boosted risk-sensitive currencies like the rand.
The initial optimism had also been fueled by strong local retail sales figures and a spike in demand for South African bonds, with Tuesday witnessing the highest net purchase of bonds in four months and the biggest daily gain in the Bloomberg EM Local Currency South Africa Bond Index since July. Additionally, Wednesday saw the rand extend its gains by 0.4% to 18.1566 per dollar in Johannesburg, culminating in an overall two-day gain of 3.1%.
However, analysts at Rand Merchant Bank have cautioned that the rand’s rally could slowly unwind without key US data to sustain the momentum. Similarly, Andre Cilliers from TreasuryONE anticipates consolidation and profit-taking in the market.
The effects of this week’s currency movements are also evident in South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond, which showed strength in early trade today with a yield drop of 1.5 basis points to 10.190%, reflecting the global market influences on the rand.
Despite this week’s fluctuations, there remains a cautious outlook for the future of South Africa’s currency. Bloomberg’s forecast model suggests a potential dip in the rand by the end of 2024, indicating that traders and investors are still hedging their bets on the currency’s long-term trajectory.
The rand’s performance is a key indicator for South Africa’s economic health as it impacts inflation and borrowing costs. The carry trade appeal of the rand has been bolstered by high yields and falling volatility, with a return of 4.7% this quarter on the dollar-rand carry trade.
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