Rand firms, breaks below key R14/$ mark

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The rand broke below the key R14/$ mark on Wednesday.

By 10:40, the rand was trading at R13.98 to the greenback.

The local currency has been making gains since last week, several market analysts have noted.

The settling of contagion risks from Turkey and the settling of local angst after Moody's granted the country a reprieve on its credit rating, as well as Eskom's management and government providing more clarity on the electricity crisis – the week before - have provided a foundation for the rand's strengthening trend.

In a market update issued on Tuesday, Head of RMB Global Markets Research Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana said that hitting the R14/$ mark is not "inconceivable" but would require a "strong impetus".

With the national elections coming up, rand volatility is expected. "A slightly weaker US dollar provides scope for rand appreciation, but this is likely to be modest at best," Ramkhelawan-Bhana said at the time.

In a market update on Wednesday Ramkhelawan-Bhana said that the rand's movements could change depending on the data releases scheduled. These include the SACCI Business Confidence Index and the US consumer inflation figures.

The release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve Bank's March meeting and the European Central Bank's (ECB) rates announcement should neutralize any "negative effects" from the data releases, Ramkhelawan-Bhana said.

"Both events will confirm the dovish tilt that both developed-market central banks have adopted.

"This should leave the US dollar unchanged and USD/ZAR in a 14.00 to 14.13 range, because as we continue to reiterate, risk sentiment is fickle," she explained.

Analysts from NKC Economics expect traders to wait for the ECB's rates announcement. NKC expects the rand to trade between R13.95/$ and R14.15/$ on Wednesday.

Other data to be released on Wednesday includes GDP and manufacturing from the UK Bianca Botes, corporate treasury manager at Peregrine Treasury Solutions said in a market update. Botes expects the currency to trade between R14.00 to R14.15 against the dollar.

Andre Botha, senior dealer at TreasuryONE noted that dovish comments from the Fed and the ECB, and weak US inflation data could provide short term good news to emerging market currencies. But he added that the lower growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund could see emerging market currencies losing ground in the medium term.

The IMF revised down SA growth from 1.4% to 1.2%. Despite the news, the rand held firm.

"This goes against the notion that a negative view of global growth is bad for Emerging Markets.

"We have seen Gold trading higher on the news as there was some move to safe-haven currencies, which suggest that an Emerging Market correction is maybe lagging and the next move for the rand could be higher," Botha said.


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