Friday, 09 September 2011 - 20:00
S.Africa's rand hits one-month low, stocks down
By Phumza Macanda and Tiisetso Motsoeneng
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's rand tumbled to one-month lows against the dollar on Friday after its breach of technical levels triggered stop losses and government bonds followed the currency weaker.
The rand hit 7.30 to the dollar earlier -- its weakest since Aug, 11 -- but bounced as those levels attracted greenback selling by exporters.
It registered its biggest weekly fall in a month.
The rand will have to close near the 7.30 area to signal further weakness next week and sentiment in global markets suggest it may do just that.
The resource-heavy bourse was deep in negative territory, after a two-day reprieve, as miners were among the worst hit on falling commodity prices.
Government bonds ended the week on a weak note, reversing some of this week's strong gains that saw yields fall to record lows.
Volatility has dominated trading on bonds this week and should continue as market players are nervous about how the persistent euro zone sovereign debt problems will play out.
Friday's news that a European Central Bank Executive Board Member Juergen Stark would step down due to squabbling over the bank's bond buying programme just added to the worries and saw investors trim back their exposure to risky assets.
Bonds, which had been on a bullish trend, changed course, extending losses after the ECB news fuelled uncertainty.
The yield on the 2015 bond went up 15 basis points to 6.48 percent and that on the 2026 bond went up 12.5 basis points to 7.905.
The rand was trading at 7.2670 to the dollar at 1532 GMT, 1.2 percent weaker than Thursday's New York close of 7.1795.
Stops were triggered when it breached 7.22.
"There's a risk-off scenario playing out and exporters came in earlier but generally rand weakness has been sustained," said William Van Rijn who runs the forex trading desk at Nedbank.
"What's happening in Europe is just feeding worries. There is so much bad news out there, it's not looking good. We'll have to see what happens this weekend."
On the local data front, focus will be on the Reserve Bank's quarterly bulletin on Tuesday.
The market expects the current account deficit to widen to 3.55 percent of GDP and a wider-than-expected shortfall should keep the rand under pressure.
The JSE Top-40 blue-chip index fell 1.8 percent to 27,114.18 and the broader All-share index lost 1.54 percent to 30,440.87.
"There more fears about the European economy and it seems that the guys are not convinced that U.S. President Barack Obama can provide any quick fixes to the American economy," said Desmond Reilly, a trader at PSG Konsult.
Among equity movers on the bourse, BHP Billiton dropped 2.44 percent to 228.76 rand and Anglo American was down 1.84 percent at 281.50 rand.
Copper fell almost 3 percent on Friday.
Elsewhere, Investec skidded 2 percent to 48.60 rand after the finance group said it would buy British investment bank Evolution for $374 million.Fri, 09 Sep 2011
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