S.African rand slips as weak China data overshadows vaccine hope

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand was weaker in early trade on Thursday, pausing a recent rally to one-month highs as disappointing Chinese consumption data dampened investor hopes of a quick economic recovery from the coronavirus.

At 0730 GMT the rand was 0.47% weaker at 16.6775 per dollar from the previous session’s best of 16.5075.

Wednesday’s rally, across most emerging market assets, was spurred by progress in finding a vaccine to counter the pandemic by U.S. firm Moderna, whose experimental vaccine showed it was safe and provoked immune responses to the novel coronavirus in all 45 healthy volunteers.

But China’s unexpected drop in retail sales – for a fifth straight month – poured water on the enthusiasm and saw some investors run for cover in safe-haven assets.

“The rand is trading on the back foot as demand for the USD recovered overnight,” market economists at ETM Analytics said in a note.

“Should the market’s spotlight once again shift away from the rising coronavirus caseload and simmering US-Sino tensions, however, the local unit could have a second attempt at the 16.50/$ level.”

Bonds also weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue up 2 basis points to 9.38%.

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