South African rand edges higher ahead of Powell’s speech

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African rand edged higher in early trade on Thursday, ahead of a speech by the Federal Reserve Chair that could provide insight on possible direction for U.S. interest rates.

At 0638 GMT, the rand traded at 18.4500 against the dollar, about 0.14% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar was last up about 0.03% against a basket of global currencies.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a speech at 1900 GMT, which investors hope will hint at the future interest rate path for the world’s biggest economy.

He did not comment on monetary policy during an event on Wednesday, while other Fed speakers indicated earlier this week that the central bank might not be done with rate hikes.

“The recent conflicting signals from the Fed over its next interest rate moves have markets on edge and currencies fairly range-bound,” said Andre Cilliers, currency strategist at TreasuryONE.

Like other risk-sensitive currencies, the rand often takes direction from global drivers like U.S. monetary policy in addition to local drivers.

Locally, Statistics South Africa will publish the country’s September mining data at 0930 GMT and manufacturing figures at 1100 GMT.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was stronger in early deals, with the yield down 2 basis points to 10.295%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders, Editing by Bhargav Acharya and Subhranshu Sahu)