Tuesday, 13 September 2011 - 20:00
S.Africa's rand off 5-week lows, bonds weaken
By Phumza Macanda and David Dolan
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's rand gained against the dollar on Tuesday, bouncing from 5-week lows as exporters came in the market and sentiment towards risky assets improved in late trade.
Stocks rose for the first time in three sessions as FirstRand finished up nearly 3 percent after South Africa's second-largest bank said it would pay a special dividend.
Wide gyrations were the order of the day on both the rand and bonds as investors wavered between taking on or dumping risky assets.
Reports that the BRICS (Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa) group of emerging countries could possibly buy euro zone sovereign debt helped risk appetite but market players were still nervous.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will brief the media around 0645 GMT Wednesday, and the market will watch for any comments on whether South Africa is contemplating buying euro zone debt.
South African government bonds weakened sharply, with yields rising by more than 30 basis points to multi-week highs at one stage, hit by profit-taking after strong gains in the previous weeks.
Those sharp losses could be temporary though, and bonds may consolidate, because data from the Reserve Bank showed the pace of spending in the economy slowed, which suggests that another rate cut could very well be on the cards.
The rand was trading at 7.33 to the dollar at 1535 GMT, 0.8 percent firmer than Monday's New York close of 7.4050.
The rand flirted with the 2011 low at 7.50 overnight, falling to 7.4750 on heightened risk appetite.
Exporters took advantage of those levels to sell dollar, capping rand losses especially around the 7.40 area.
A close below 7.30 could be an indication that the rand's fall may have been overdone and it could retrace back to the early 7.20, said Ion de Vleeschauwer, chief dealer at Bidvest.
Citi said in a note to clients the rand looked oversold and its fair-value level at 7.23 although further risk aversion would adjust that to a weaker level.
BOND YIELDS OFF HIGHS
Investors returned to shares of Shoprite and other index heavyweights that had been hit in the previous session's sell-off, although nervous sentiment capped wider gains.
The Top-40 index of blue chips was up 0.8 percent at 26,735.39, while the broader All-Share index ended 0.6 percent higher at 30,032.71.
"FirstRand, with the special dividend that seemed to help it quite a bit and banks did relatively better today compared to the rest of the market," said Mitchell Gannaway, a trader at Thebe Securities.
"There just doesn't seem to be any straight direction for the market ... With volatile markets like this, you've got to get out quickly before it turns."
FirstRand rose 2.7 percent to 20.70 rand, the bank said it would pay a special dividend of 70 cents per share after selling off stakes in two insurance units. It also posted a 22 percent rise in full-year profit.
Generic drugs maker Aspen Pharmacare rose 2 percent to 88.80 rand after the company reported a 20 percent rise in profit and said it could spend up to $800 million on an acquisition.
On fixed income, the yield on the 2015 bond was up 15.5 basis points on the day at 6.845, after spiking to 7.01 percent earlier.
The 2026 yield went up 14 basis points on the day to 8.30 percent, also off a session high of 8.5 percent.
"There's some portfolio shifting going on after that unbelievable rally. People are going to equities but you can expect bonds to gain again once you see equities falling," Bidvest's de Vleeschauwer said.
The yield curve has flattened by between 30 and 50 basis points in the past two months, on rising expectations that the Reserve Bank may cut interest rates further from 30 year-lows given the weak global and local economy.Tue, 13 Sep 2011
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