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Africa, Forex

South African rand firms against dollar before current account data

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand was firmer against the U.S. dollar on Thursday as investors looked to current account data for clues about the health of Africa’s most industrialised economy.

At 0704 GMT, the rand traded at 17.00 versus the dollar, around 0.3% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar was about 0.2% weaker on global markets before non-farm payrolls figures which are expected to show an increase in jobs but come as concerns grow about whether the U.S. economy can sustain its recovery as coronavirus infections surge.

South Africa’s first-quarter current account data, due around 0900 GMT, will give more detail about how the economy was performing before the coronavirus crisis really took hold.

The government imposed a strict lockdown at the end of March, shutting down many businesses and confining most people to their homes, and has only gradually eased restrictions since.

Data this week showed gross domestic product contracted 2% in the first three months of the year, led by declines in mining and manufacturing.

The current account has long been a sore spot for South Africa, but the deficit narrowed to its lowest in nearly a decade in the last quarter of 2019.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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