South African rand jumps after U.S. inflation data

By Tannur Anders

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand strengthened against the dollar on Thursday, helped by dollar weakness after data showed a moderate rise in U.S. inflation in July.

At 1514 GMT, the rand traded at 18.7375 against the dollar, up about 1.33% on its previous close, having risen as much as 1.7% to the dollar earlier.

But it is still down almost 5% so far this month.

The dollar was last trading around 0.15% weaker against a basket of global currencies.

Traders focused on the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) data which came in at 3.2% in July, up from 3% in June.

“The rand appears to be taking the U.S. CPI print in its stride, with the data in itself not supporting a case for further (rand) weakness at this time,” Danny Greeff, co-head of Africa at ETM Analytics, told Reuters.

Markets are pricing in a more than 50% chance that the Fed is done with interest rate hikes this year as inflation has moderated, but this may change.

“Nothing in the data suggested that the U.S. Federal Reserve would need to hike rates again in September, or push out eventual rate cuts for that matter,” Greeff added.

The rand often takes cues from global drivers like U.S. economic policy.

“The rand continues to suffer wild waves, where it underperforms for weeks on end, and then similarly outperforms for weeks,” Rand Merchant Bank analysts said in a research note.

On a positive note for the South African economy, data on Thursday showed manufacturing output rose more than expected to 5.5% year on year in June, and that mining output rose 1.1% year on year in June when a small contraction was predicted.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the blue-chip Top-40 index closed 1.23% higher. South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was also stronger, with the yield down 9.5 basis points to 10.120%.

(Reporting by Tannur AndersEditing by Alexander Winning, Bhargav Acharya, Jane Merriman, William Maclean)