South African rand strengthens further after strong week of gains

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa’s rand strengthened further on Friday after a strong week of gains boosted by encouraging economic data at home.

At 1508 GMT, the rand traded at 18.7000 to the dollar, around 0.72% stronger than its previous close.

The rand has gained more than 4% against the dollar this week, recovering steep losses from the previous month.

South Africa is in the midst of its worst-ever power crisis, which has crippled the economy and helped push the rand to a new all-time low of almost 20 to the dollar last week.

But several economic data points have aided its recovery. South Africa’s first-quarter economic growth on Tuesday showed the country had narrowly avoided a recession, and central bank data on Thursday showed the current account deficit had narrowed.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, both the broader all-share index and the blue-chip Top-40 index slipped marginally and ended about 0.1% lower.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was marginally stronger, with the yield down 1 basis point to 10.820%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Nellie Peyton, Alexander Winning and Mark Heinrich)