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Africa, Forex

South African rand extends slide as flags looting risks; stocks rise

(Updates rand to reflect afternoon trade, adds stocks)

JOHANNESBURG, July 23 (Reuters) – The South African rand extended a recent slide on Friday, a day after the central bank said a spate of arson and looting could have a lasting economic impact and suggested that interest rates would stay relatively low.

The South African Reserve Bank said the unrest would probably slow the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and that its models showed monetary policy would remain highly accommodative through the end of 2022.

At 1545 GMT, the rand was trading down roughly 0.6% at 14.7925 against the U.S. dollar.

A stronger greenback has also hurt the South African rand, which is highly susceptible to changes in risk appetite towards emerging markets.

The local stock market gained on Friday, as positive earnings forecasts and the reopening of stores that were affected by last week’s unrest eased investor concerns.

The All-share index rose 0.98% to 68,063 points, while the Top-40 index climbed 1.02% to 61,932 points.

Among the gainers was steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa, which jumped 11.05% after saying it will swing into a half-year profit from a loss.

Drinks maker Distell rose 1.12% after saying its full-year profit would be up to around 20% higher than a year earlier.

Grocery retailer SPAR Group and pharmacy chain Clicks Group rose by 1.04% and 0.55% respectively, after they said some of their looted and damaged stores had reopened. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, Promit Mukherjee and Alexander Winning; editing by David Evans)

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