June 13, 2019 / 4:33 PM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rand edges down as Ramaphosa, inflation data in focus

(Adds latest figures, details, analyst quotes)

JOHANNESBURG, June 13 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand inched lower late on Thursday, as investors assessed local political developments ahead of local inflation numbers next week and a decision on U.S. interest rates.

At 1600 GMT the rand was 0.08% weaker at 14.8800 per dollar, pausing the previous session’s dive of more than 1% following news that donations to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign would be investigated.

Ramaphosa has said he will cooperate with the investigation into whether he misled parliament over the donation, and analysts say is no immediate risk that he could be removed from office, but the rand remains susceptible to political developments.

“Ongoing political noise is likely to keep investors cautious of increasing exposure to S.A.,” analysts at Investec said in a note. “The rand is quickly regaining its title as the most volatile currency.”

Second quarter business confidence remained unchanged from the previous quarter, remaining near record lows with local investors uneasy over South Africa’s near-term growth prospects.

Mining continued to shrink, data from Statistics South Africa showed, with gold and iron ore production recording double-digit contractions as firms battled volatile prices and an uncertain local political climate.

Bonds also weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year government issue up 2.5 basis points at 8.39%.

Stocks were flat, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s top-40 index edging 0.05% lower to 52,592 points and the broader all-share index at 58,697 points - a 0.02% decrease.

Financial firms and retailers suffered again due to the weak rand, with retailers Shoprite, The Foschini Group and Mr Price all down between 2% and 3%.

The rand’s losses however helped miners, as did a rally in iron ore and gold prices. Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti topped the index, up 2.4% and 1.7% respectively. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Emma Rumney; editing by John Stonestreet)

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