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Rand weakens on China data, stocks open firmer

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Johannesburg - The rand edged weaker against the dollar on Monday as further signs of economic weakness in China and a fall in oil prices kept investors on guard, but traded below the psychological level of 16.00.

Stocks climbed, with the blue-chip Top-40 up 0.30% and the broader All-Share index up at the same margin.

The rand edged down 0.16% to R15.9100/$ by 11:00, compared with its New York close on Friday.

The currency edged below the psychological level of R16.00/$ for the first time since January 7, buoyed by a central bank rate hike and improved global risk sentiment.

Monday's batch of economic data from China added to worries about the health of the economy.

Activity in Beijing's manufacturing sector contracted below expectations at its fastest pace in almost three-and-a-half years in January.

Analysts said this could increase calls for more policy easing from China which could see improved sentiment for riskier assets.

"Worries over the state of the global economy generated risk-off through December and early January, but the hope coming into February is that renewed monetary stimulus will help support risk assets," said Rand Merchant Bank's currency strategist John Cairns.

So far this year, the European Central Bank and the Chinese central bank have both promised further easing, generating support for risk assets.

South African bonds were mixed, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 1.5 basis point to 9.195%, its firmest level in two-and-a-half months.

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ZAR/USD
16.68
(+1.45)
ZAR/GBP
21.56
(+0.98)
ZAR/EUR
19.56
(+1.56)
ZAR/AUD
11.95
(+1.17)
ZAR/JPY
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(+1.35)
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