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Africa, Forex

South African rand gains as mixed U.S. jobs report dents dollar

(Updates throughout)

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 7 (Reuters) – The South African rand advanced further on Friday, taking this week’s gains to more than 2% against the dollar, as the greenback dipped on a mixed U.S. jobs report.

The rand has also benefited this week from bets that the South African Reserve Bank will hike interest rates early this year.

At 1608 GMT, the rand traded at 15.6250 against the dollar, around 0.7% stronger than its previous close.

U.S. non farm payrolls rose by 199,000 last month, well short of the 400,000 estimate, but analysts noted underlying data in the report appeared sturdier, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.9% against expectations of 4.1% while earnings rose by 0.6%.

The dollar fell slightly in response to the jobs numbers, trading down more than 0.4% on the day against a basket of currencies.

Earlier on Friday a South African purchasing managers’ index showed manufacturing activity expanded at a slower rate in December, but that did little to influence rand trading.

Johannesburg-listed stocks lost ground marginally but ended the first trading week of the year in positive territory.

Stock markets globally have been on a roller coaster this week, as rising cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant overlapped with concerns about faster-than-expected interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and a continued Chinese crackdown on its technology companies.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s All-share index lost 0.3% to end the day at 73,940 points and the blue-chip index of top 40 companies dropped 0.25% to close the week at 67,251 points.

The yield on the South African government’s benchmark 2030 bond was down 2.5 basis points at 9.405%. (Reporting by Alexander Winning and Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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