South Africa's rand flat, rate decisions in focus


South Africa’s rand was largely unchanged on Friday, with investors looking ahead to a local interest rate next week and still wary of a firming dollar as a U.S. rate hike by year-end remained likely.

At 0615 GMT the rand edged down 0.08 percent to 12.4000 per dollar after posting meagre gains in the previous session as the unit stalled at the 12.35 resistance level breached only once this week.

“Lower event risk today should leave USD/ZAR consolidating around 12.40, but a hike from the South African Reserve Bank next week could support the rand, reinforcing the current bullish bias from flows,” said Carmen Nel, a trader at Rand Merchant Bank.


Thirty-two economists polled by Reuters in the past week were split almost evenly, with 17 predicting an increase and the rest saying the Bank would keep rates on hold at its policy meeting beginning on Tuesday.

The rand has weakened nearly 10 percent against the dollar in 2015 as persistent economic frailties have hamstrung growth along with the currency.

The dollar index fell back from two-month highs but remained on track to record a weekly 1.5 percent gain, buoyed by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s remarks earlier in the week, which indicated a 2015 rate-hike remained likely.

Government bonds were flat in early trade after yields fell sharply in the previous session. The benchmark issue due in 2026 remained near its lowest in one month at 8.07 percent.