South African rand jumps 1% after downward revision in US payrolls

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African rand jumped on Friday after employment data out of the U.S. showed an easing of labour market conditions, cementing expectations the Federal Reserve may not need to hike interest rates when it meets later this month.

At 1540 GMT, the rand traded at 18.8100 against the dollar, around 0.36% stronger than its previous close.

The South African currency had gained more than 1% earlier in the day, paring some of its more than 5% losses in a highly volatile August.

A softening U.S. labour market eases concerns over future interest rate hikes in the world’s biggest economy.

“The argument for another Fed rate hike has thus weakened significantly, which explains the improved risk appetite that is supporting the (rand),” Danny Greeff of ETM Analytics told Reuters.

Like other risk-sensitive currencies, the rand often takes cues from global factors like U.S. monetary policy.

As markets weigh in on a weaker global economy, “plenty of volatility likely lies ahead for the rand”, Greeff added.

Locally, South Africa’s manufacturing activity shrank for the seventh month in a row in August, but at a slower pace than in the previous month.

Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange ended the week in the red, with the blue-chip Top 40 index closing 0.3% down from its closing level on Thursday.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was slightly weaker, with the yield up 2.5 basis points to 10.300%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders; Editing by Alexander Winning, Frances Kerry and Krishna Chandra Eluri)