South Africa’s rand gains as U.S. political instability weighs on dollar

PUBLISHED: Mon, 24 Dec 2018 16:43:13 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand gained early on Monday in low-volume trade ahead of a shortened Christmas holiday week, as political instability in the United States curbed the dollar’s recent surge.

Stocks ended higher in trade led by resource firms.

At 1200 GMT the rand was 0.6 percent firmer at 14.5450 per dollar, compared to a close of 14.6300 on Friday in New York.

The dollar index was down 0.19 percent.

The rand, along with other emerging currencies, was hit by a wave of selling going before the weekend, with investors squaring positions and looking to offload risk holdings.

But by Monday risk demand was revived by developments in Washington, with investors fretting over a government shutdown that could continue into January and a report that President Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of firing the head of the central bank.

“A potential U.S. government shutdown, President Trump threatening to fire the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and U.S. politics in general are adding some pressure to the dollar,” said Bianca Botes of Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

Bonds closed flat, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper steady at 9 percent.

On the bourse, the Top-40 index rose 1.43 percent to 46,203 points, while the broader all-share was up 1.27 percent at 52,081.

AngloGold Ashanti led the blue-chip index, up 4.4 percent at 184.40 rand.

Bourse heavyweight Naspers rose 3.9 percent on the day to 2,956.30 rand.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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