November 8, 2018 / 3:44 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa's rand falls on subdued risk sentiment; stocks down

* Rand weakened by dollar rally

* Naspers down nearly 3 percent tracking Tencent (Updates levels, add quotes)

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 8 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened on Thursday as a dollar rally dimmed investor appetite for riskier assets with investors taking profits ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the day.

Bourse heavyweight Naspers and banks led stocks lower.

At 1531 GMT, the rand traded at 14.0700 per dollar, 1.1 percent weaker, having closed at 13.9175 on Wednesday.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is expected to maintain the hawkish language seen in recent policy statements, while keeping interest rates unchanged this time. The Fed has raised rates three times this year and inflation started to pick up, and it has signalled a rate rise in December.

“The strong dollar rally has caused the rand to trade defensively heading to the Fed meeting, which we don’t expect change but remains to be seen,” said ETM economist Halen Bothma.

Domestic data also dragged the rand.

South Africa’s total mining output fell 1.8 percent year-on-year in September compared with the consensus figure which forecast it rising 0.30 percent.

“The economic data isn’t doing much to boost the currency and show that there is a turnaround in the economy,” said Bothma.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 1 basis points to 9.155 percent.

In equities, the all share index was down 1.16 percent to 54,064 points while the top 40 index fell 1.36 percent to 47,638 points.

Banks were 2.01 percent lower and Naspers was down 2.86 percent to 2,796 rand.

Technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, in which Naspers has a 31 percent stake, is reportedly cutting the marketing budget for its key gaming division.

“Tencent is reducing their budget on gaming and that seems to be hurting the stock a bit,” said Ryan Woods, trader at Independent Securities. “There has been a general lack of buying in the market today and volumes are very thin.”

Retailer TFG (The Foschini Group) soared 2.67 percent to 170.95 rand after reporting a 8.3 percent increase in half-year earnings, as London, Australia and local operations contributed positively to revenue growth. (Reporting by Nomvelo Chalumbira and Patricia Aruo Editing by James Macharia)

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