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Africa, Forex

South Africa’s rand stabilises; stocks drop

(Updates rand, adds stocks)

JOHANNESBURG, May 12 (Reuters) – The South African rand stabilised on Thursday, staying resilient despite a strong dollar, weak economic data and a pickup in local COVID-19 infections.

At 1615 GMT, the rand traded at 16.1450 per dollar, around 0.1% weaker than its previous close.

That was a modest decline given the dollar climbed to a new 20-year high on concerns that central bank actions to counter high inflation would crimp global economic growth.

March mining output fell more than expected, and March manufacturing production declined 0.8% year-on-year versus predictions for a 0.9% fall. South Africa’s daily reported COVID infections on Wednesday crossed 10,000 for the first time since January.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the All-Share index closed 1.7% weaker, while the Top-40 index fell 1.85%.

Gold and platinum miners were the main drag on the bourse as bullion and other precious metals dropped, with palladium shedding more than 6%, as investors flocked to the dollar driven by bets the U.S. Federal Reserve will stick to aggressive rate hikes.

Anglo American Platinum was at the bottom of the bourse, down 6.85%, while Sibanye-Stillwater, Northam Platinum, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold fell 6.69%, 6.25%, 5.98% and 5.83% respectively. The mining index slumped 5.79%.

ArcelorMittal South Africa fell 5.97% as a strike entered a second day after wage negotiations broke down.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning, Nqobile Dludla and Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Alison Williams)

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