South Africa's rand steady, but rating review poses risk


South Africa’s rand was flat against the dollar in early Friday trade, with dealers and analysts expecting caution to prevail ahead of a rating review by Standard & Poor’s which could result in a sub-investment rating if unfavourable.

The JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index was up 0.42 percent, suggesting the local bourse would open a touch firmer at 0700 GMT.

The rand traded at 15.5750 versus the dollar by 0646 GMT, unchanged from Thursday’s New York close.


Government bonds, however, edged slightly higher, and the yield on debt maturing in 2026 fell 3 basis points to 9.29 percent.

Investors were bracing for a verdict from S&P, which has expressed concern about its dismal growth outlook and heavy reliance on capital flows.

The review is expected after South Africa’s bond and stock markets are closed for the day, although the rand will still be trading on the global arena.

“Risk is for an adverse reaction in the currency market in a very illiquid time of day/week,” Standard Bank trader Oliver Alwar said in a note to clients.

“I would advise caution today. There may be opportunities, but be aware of the large risk.”

Investors also awaited U.S. jobs data later on Friday which could add pressure on high yielding but riskier emerging market assets if it backs the case for interest rates to rise in the world’s biggest economy.