South African rand edges lower ahead of economic data releases

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African rand edged lower against the dollar on Monday, ahead of several closely watched local and global economic data releases.

At 1535 GMT, the rand traded at 18.7625 against the dollar, down 0.12% on its previous close.

The dollar last traded around 0.09% stronger against a basket of global currencies.

The rand fell more than 2% against the U.S. currency last week, mirroring declines in other emerging market currencies, as hawkish comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell lifted the dollar and dented global risk appetite.

U.S. inflation data due on Tuesday will be closely watched after Powell said further interest rate hikes may be needed to bring inflation within the bank’s target range.

Local investors will look to South Africa’s third-quarter unemployment figures on Tuesday and September retail sales on Wednesday to gauge the health of Africa’s most industrialised economy.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the blue-chip Top-40 index closed up about 0.34%.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was marginally weaker, the yield up 0.5 basis points at 10.415%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders with additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Winning and Bernadette Baum)