South African rand jumps on encouraging domestic data

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand jumped on Thursday, clinging to gains made since the start of the week on a weakening dollar and encouraging domestic data.

At 1512 GMT, the rand traded at 18.8600 against the dollar, more than 1.2% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar was last trading at 103.390 – around 0.63% weaker – against a basket of global currencies.

The South African rand on Wednesday briefly strengthened below 19 to the dollar for the first time in three weeks, also boosted by an easing of rolling power cuts.

The South African Reserve Bank on Thursday released data that showed the country’s first-quarter current account deficit narrowed to 1% of gross domestic product.

South Africa’s manufacturing output rose 3.4% year-on-year in April after falling by a revised 1.8% in March, statistics agency data showed.

The rand has been recovering after a tumultuous May when it tumbled more than 7% against the dollar on record power cuts and U.S. allegations that South Africa had supplied arms to Russia.

Nonetheless, investor sentiment remains sour with survey data on Wednesday showing business confidence at a three-year low.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the blue-chip Top-40 index closed nearly 0.2% weaker.

South Africa’s local benchmark 2030 government bond was marginally stronger, with the yield down 1 basis point at 10.830%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders, additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Nellie Peyton, Alexander Winning, Sriraj Kalluvila and Sharon Singleton)