UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand weakens as oil crash weighs, markets down

  • Reuters
  • Forex News
UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand weakens as oil crash weighs, markets down
Credit: © Reuters.

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JOHANNESBURG, April 21 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand slumped more than one percent on Tuesday, sliding along with fellow emerging market currencies, as the plunge in global oil prices fuelled risk aversion and renewed dollar buying.

At 1515 GMT the rand ZAR=D3 was 0.98% weaker at 19.0300 per dollar, crossing the 19.00 threshold for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks as investors unwound long positions at a faster rate fearing the widening impact of the oil crash.

U.S. crude oil futures plunged into negative territory for the first time ever on Monday, dragged down by a supply glut and sagging demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

While lower oil prices usually mean lower inflation for net importers like South Africa, making its assets more attractive, the latest dive in crude has spurred a flight to safety by investors nervous about the impact on global growth and the likelihood of other commodities following a similar route.

As a result the greenback =USD was up on the day, rising around 0.3% against a basket of currencies.

The oil slump added to worries about South Africa's fragile fiscal position, with government yet to announce details of a stimulus package as cracks continued to appear.

State power firm Eskom declared force majeure on coal supply agreements for its power stations due to a nationwide lockdown that began in late March to curb the spread of the coronavirus. fared slightly better, with the yield on the government issue due in 2030 ZAR2030= up only 3.5 basis points to 10.335%.

The raft of negative news flows around the domestic economy and falling crude prices kept the stock market suppressed.

The FTSE/JSE Top 40 index .JTOPI fell 2.36% to close at 43,737.55 and the all share index .JALSH fell 2.5% to end at 47,628.67.

The fall in the market was mainly led by South African mining companies with the resources index .JRESI down 4.5%.

Gold mining companies reversed early gains, due to rising gold prices as investors rush for a safe haven, and did not offer respite to the market. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange's gold index .JGLDX was up 0.24% after rising as much as 6% during the day.

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