UPDATE 1-South African rand inches firmer in strong week, property leads stocks higher

  • Reuters
  • Forex News
UPDATE 1-South African rand inches firmer in strong week, property leads stocks higher
Credit: © Reuters.

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JOHANNESBURG, April 23 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand inched firmer on Friday as the U.S. dollar traded near multi-week lows, after a directionless week in which it took its cues from moves on global markets.

At 1500 GMT, the rand ZAR=D3 traded at 14.3075 versus the dollar, roughly 0.07% stronger than its previous close.

The rand has by far outperformed its emerging market peers, with gains of around 3% year-to-date against the greenback, owing largely the high real yield, or carry, on the currency that is a function of low inflation and high risk premium.

Higher commodity prices have also cushioned demand for the currency against rising U.S. Treasury yields and some indications that lending rates there and in the euro zone are on their way up.

"Apart from commodity prices, the rand's outperformance can be attributed to the elevated FX swap basis, which, from a currency perspective, is equivalent to about a 100bp hike in the repo rate," said currency analyst at RMB, Kim Silberman.

"To put the relationship between commodity prices and the rand into perspective, our 2Q21 USD/ZAR fair value estimate has strengthened from 16.80 in June 2020 to 14.00 currently, due almost exclusively to the recovery in commodity prices," she said.

Government bonds dipped, as the yield on the 2030 instrument ZAR2030= rose 3.5 basis points to 9.16%.

In the equities market, stocks rose, led by property firms with the index .JSAPY up 2.47% as investors placed hopes on the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations at home and abroad, as it means people may start to frequent malls and offices more often.

Among the gainers were MAS Real Estate Inc MSPJ.J up 4.85%, Vukile Property Fund VKEJ.J up 4.37%, EPP N.V. EPPJ.J up 3.92%, Attacq Ltd ATTJ.J up 3.68%, Investec Property Fund IPFJ.J up 3.31% and Arrowhead Properties AHBJ.J up 3.30%.

"EPP should largely be explained by Poland's improving COVID-19 numbers and vaccination rates," said Reitway Global Chief Investment Officer Garreth Elston.

"The South African names are most likely a continuing result of economic normalisation, and that our vaccination drive should start kicking into gear and moving South Africa out of the COVID-19 malaise as the vaccination timetable is now clearer."

The Johannesburg All-Share index .JALSH and the Top-40 index .JTOPI both closed 0.48% firmer.

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