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Rand, stocks fall on resurgence of coronavirus cases in Europe

The rand lost more than 1% on Thursday.
The rand lost more than 1% on Thursday.

The  rand slumped to its worst ever in a year against the dollar on Friday as contagion effects of the meltdown of Turkish lira on emerging market currencies played alongside concerns of rising coronavirus cases and lockdowns in Europe.

The local currency seemed to have bypassed the entire effect of Thursday's 25-basis-point rise in lending rate by the South African Reserve Bank and will continue to keep focus on global factors, analysts said.

At 1522 GMT, the rand was trading at 15.7000 to the dollar, down 0.32% since its previous close. In intra-day trade, rand had fallen to 15.7889 against the dollar, its weakest in 2021 so far.

The rand lost more than 1% on Thursday, when investors dumped emerging market assets after Turkey's central bank cut rates by another 100 basis points, under pressure from President Tayyip Erdogan.

The 25-basis-point rate hike by South Africa's central bank, also on Thursday, offered little support. Traders instead focused on the monetary policy committee's apparent preference for gradual policy tightening, as opposed to the steeper rate hikes some in the markets had expected.

"Today, it is just risk aversion. Investors are moving to safe haven currencies as resurgence of coronavirus in Europe is adding to the fears of a contagion from the fall in Turkish lira," said Warren Venketas, analyst at DailyFX.

If the cases continue to rise in Europe, the rand may open even further down on Monday, he said.

Late on Friday, ratings agencies S&P Global and Moody's are scheduled to review South Africa's sovereign credit rating.

Bonds were unchanged with the yield on the government's benchmark 2030 bond 2.5 basis points higher at 9.48%, reflecting a slightly weaker price than the day before.

Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) mirrored most emerging and developed markets and closed down for the second consecutive day after a six-day winning streak.

Global markets shed most of their weekly gains as renewed fears of fresh lockdown in Germany, often considered the gold standard in Europe among investors, and other European markets cast a pall over prospects of economic recovery.

The benchmark all-share index lost 0.69% to end at 70,376 points and the blue-chip index of top 40 companies ended down 65% at 63,871 points.