Rand regains levels last seen in August

28 January 2019 - 11:16 By Robert Laing
Newly printed 100 rand Mandela notes. (File picture)
Newly printed 100 rand Mandela notes. (File picture)
Image: Reuters

The rand strengthened to under R13.60/$ on Monday morning for the first time since August 2018.

“Over the last week, as well as in the year so far, the rand is the second-best performing currency among a basket of 24 emerging-market currencies,” Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan said in her weekly report e-mailed on Friday.

“Specifically, the currency gained 1.1% in the last week and 4.8% on a year-to-date basis. The rand’s performance has been aided by a stabilisation in commodity prices, improved sentiment towards emerging markets and the paring back of expectations of further interest rate hikes by major economy central banks.”

The rand was trading at R13.62/$, R15.54/€ and R17.96/£ at 9:20am.

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi is scheduled to make a speech in Brussels at 4pm South African time, providing a clue as to how much longer it intends holding its benchmark interest rate at zero.

“The market is increasingly pricing out an interest rate increase by the European Central Bank this year, given the slowdown of economic growth in the eurozone,” Dow Jones reported.

“However, not everybody shares this view. DZ Bank’s analysts said they still think the ECB is likely to take a first step in normalising the deposit rate, with a 15 basis-point increase to 0.25%, towards the end of the year in order to alleviate the pressure of negative money market rates.”

The JSE was flat on Monday morning, with the all-share index 0.03% higher at 54,067 points at 9:40am.

Naspers tracked its main asset Tencent down, falling 1% to R3,007.63.

It issued a statement on Monday morning confirming weekend news reports of a $1.16bn deal to raise its shareholding in its Russian subsidiary Avito to 99.6% from 70.4%.

The remaining 0.4% of Avito is held by its management.

“Naspers initially invested in Avito in 2013. Over the last five years, Avito has established leading positions in five key categories: goods; [cars]; real estate; jobs; and services. With 10.3m daily unique visitors, Avito now attracts a large portion of the Russian internet population every day,” Naspers said.

Possibly due to jitters ahead of Tuesday’s UK parliamentary vote when prime minister Theresa May will attempt to get her revised Brexit deal accepted, Brait fell 5% to R26.58 on Monday morning.

But the owner of UK retailer New Look recouped most of its losses to trade 1% down at R27.71 by 9:40am.

- BusinessLIVE