South African rand gains on U.S. jobs data after ‘torrid week’

By Tannur Anders

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand rebounded against the dollar on Friday after the U.S. currency fell on employment data.

At 1501 GMT, the rand traded at 18.4300 against the dollar, nearly 1.4% above its previous close. It had slipped as much as 0.3% earlier in the day, extending its decline this week to 6% as of Thursday.

The dollar last traded at 101.91, around 0.52% weaker against a basket of global currencies.

U.S. payrolls data out on Friday showed nonfarm employment grew moderately in the world’s biggest economy in July, sending the dollar into a tailspin and boosting the rand.

Despite Friday’s gains, the rand has slumped over 5% against the greenback this week as concerns over global economic growth made investors more averse to risk.

“The domestic currency has had a torrid week, retracing sharply from overbought levels. … The depreciation of the rand this week unfortunately unwinds a lot of progress seen in the weeks preceding,” said Shaun Murison, senior market analyst at IG.

The rand slumped this week after rating agency Fitch on Tuesday downgraded the U.S. from AAA to AA+, fuelling risk-off sentiment and putting pressure on emerging market currencies.

Anezka Christovova, an emerging markets strategist at JP Morgan, said on Thursday she expected further rand weakness.

The rand had performed well on reduced intensity in rolling blackouts in June before they were ramped up in July, Christovova added.

The power cuts, locally referred to as “loadshedding”, intensified in July as state power utility Eskom struggled to meet winter demand for heating.

“Our economist expects a more sustained improvement in energy availability only in H2 2024,” Christovova said.

Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange rose, with the blue-chip Top 40 index closing 0.24% higher and the broader all-share index ending up 0.28%.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was stronger, with the yield down 17 basis point to 10.270%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Richard Chang)