South Africa’s rand recovers but caution remains, stocks slip

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand recovered in afternoon trade on Friday, after sliding earlier due to concerns about rising COVID-19 cases both at home and abroad.

At 1505 GMT the rand was 0.42% firmer at 16.7800 per dollar, bouncing back from a session low of 16.9725 hit earlier.

“Given all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and global economic recovery prospects, market sentiment continues to switch between risk-on and risk-off in a matter of seconds,” said market economists at ETM Analytics.

“If the market really bought into the economic growth optimism and recovery narrative, it wouldn’t be hedging its bets with gold purchases. Markets may well be positioning for additional monetary and fiscal stimulus measures in the months ahead.”

The United States on Thursday reported the largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases by any country since the start of the pandemic, while cases have jumped in major cities such as Melbourne, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Locally, confirmed COVID-19 cases are also on the rise.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) slipped as investor optimism about a market recovery was overshadowed by continued worry over coronavirus.

The benchmark FTSE/JSE All Share Index dropped by 0.64% to close the week at 55,431 points while the FTSE/JSE Top 40 Companies’ Index closed down 0.74% to 51,154 points.

The benchmark index rose 1.67% this week.

Bonds firmed, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue dropping 15.5 basis points to 9.495%.

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