SA bonds back in favour after re-weighting, Moody's

South African bonds are back in favor.Foreign investors have bought a net R6.8 billion of government rand bonds since Friday after outflows of R81m in March, according to JSE data compiled by Bloomberg.

That pushed cumulative inflows this year to R18.8bn.

Partly driving demand was a re-weighting of the JPMorgan Government Bond Emerging Markets index on Friday, with South African debt assigned a higher weighting, according to Michelle Wohlberg, a trader at FirstRand Bank in Johannesburg. Also Friday, the country retained its investment-grade rating as Moody’s Investors Service deferred a review, further supporting appetite at a time when a risk-on mood is taking hold across global markets.

It’s not only foreign investors who covet the bonds.

Local lenders placed bids for almost four times the amount of debt on sale at the weekly government auction on Tuesday even as the Treasury increased issuance to R3.3bn, from R2.85bn. That compares with a bid-to-cover ratio of two the previous week.

Yields on benchmark 2026 securities have declined 18 basis points in the past week to the lowest since May, propelling the debt to the top of emerging-market performance rankings. South African local-currency bonds have returned 2.2% this month in dollar terms, the most out of 25 developing nations tracked by Bloomberg Barclays indexes. The emerging-market average is 0.1%.

The next risk for bond investors is the general election set for May 8 and its implication for government policy, according to Wohlberg.

The yield on the 2026 bonds was little changed at 8.51% by 12:47 in Johannesburg.

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