South African rand gains after central bank keeps rate unchanged

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand was stronger on Thursday after the central bank maintained its key interest rate amid high inflation.

At 1543 GMT, the rand traded at 18.8100 against the dollar, about 0.5% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar <=USD> was last down around 0.13% against a basket of global currencies.

South Africa’s central bank stuck to its previous hawkish tone on Thursday as it kept its main lending rate unchanged for the third meeting in a row and emphasised that logistics bottlenecks were denting the growth outlook.

“There was nothing in the policy statement that pointed to rate cuts being in the pipeline, with the speech giving the market very little to trade on,” Danny Greeff, co-head of Africa at ETM Analytics, told Reuters.

The unanimous decision to keep the repo rate at 8.25% was in line with all the forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists published last week.

But the “hold” decision comes amid higher than expected inflation in October.

Headline consumer inflation rose to 5.9% year-on-year last month from 5.4% in September, data from Statistics South Africa showed on Wednesday, nearing the top of the central bank’s target range of 3% to 6%.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, both the blue-chip Top-40 and the broader All Share indexes closed around 0.9% higher.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was weaker on Thursday, the yield down 1.5 basis points to 10.125%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders, Editing by Bhargav Acharya, Alexandra Hudson)