April 26, 2018 / 3:39 PM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand stabilises after torrid week; shares rise

(Updates with latest prices)

JOHANNESBURG, April 26 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand stabilised on Thursday after a torrid week which saw the currency set several new three-month lows against the dollar, while stocks rose thanks to gains for firms including banks and some retailers.

South African markets will be closed on Friday for the Freedom Day public holiday.

At 1525 GMT the rand was steady at 0.02 percent at 12.4325 per dollar, having fallen as far as 12.5325 on Wednesday, its weakest since Jan. 10.

The South African currency is down around 2.6 percent since the end of last week as emerging market currencies worldwide have suffered steep falls because of a soaring dollar.

“We expect the rand to regain lost ground as soon as global conditions stabilize. The recent change of leadership points to structural improvements in the South African economy and should underpin confidence,” currency analysts at UBS said in a note.

South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa has staked his reputation on revitalising the economy and rooting out corruption, which marred his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power. Since Ramaphosa’s election in February, business and consumer confidence have risen.

Government bonds were little changed, with the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 up 1.5 basis points to 8.220 percent.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index rose 0.89 percent to 50,684 points, while the All-Share index gained 0.82 percent to 57,453 points.

“We’re seeing a bit of a breather after a sharp selloff in the last three days,” said FFO Securities portfolio manager Wilmar Buys. “We are recovering on low volumes.”

Most sectors closed higher, with banks, utilities, retailers and telecoms seeing gains. Rand hedge stocks, which investors use to position for a weaker rand, came under pressure.

Clothes retailer Mr Price closed up 3.79 percent to 272.00 rand after saying it expected full-year earnings per share to rise by up to 22 percent.

Crisis-hit retailer Steinhoff was an outlier, closing down 11.3 percent to 1.96 rand after falling as much as 17 percent, when former board member and shareholder Christo Wiese said he was launching a $5 billion lawsuit against the company. (Reporting by Patricia Aruo, Nomvelo Chalumbira and Alexander Winning Editing by James Macharia)

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