April 12, 2019 / 3:57 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand firms on falling dollar, stocks up

(Updates prices)

JOHANNESBURG, April 12 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was set to end the week on a firmer footing on Friday as the U.S. dollar weakened, while signs of economic stabilisation in China boosted demand for riskier assets.

At 1517 GMT, the rand had strengthened by 0.57 percent to 13.9275 per dollar, staying close to a six-month high of 13.8725 hit on Thursday.

“The rand is on route to securing its second straight week of gains against the dollar despite disappointing domestic economic data weighing on sentiment,” said FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga in a note.

“The rand’s appreciation is mostly based around the dollar’s depreciation. Emerging market currencies have the potential to strengthen in the upcoming trading week if dollar weakness becomes a dominant market theme.”

Investors’ appetite for riskier currencies was boosted on Friday after Chinese data showed exports rebounded last month, helping offset weaker imports, and by reports of another reduction in Germany’s growth forecasts, analysts said.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 0.5 basis points to 8.485 percent.

Bourses strengthened, following the rand higher on the back of better-than-expected U.S. bank results.

The Johannesburg All-Share index gained 0.38 percent to 58,405 points, and the Top-40 index increased by 0.38 percent to 52,142 points.

Consumer staples led the blue-chip index higher, with Africa’s largest supermarket group Shoprite gaining 3.2 percent to 175.99 rand and Bid Corporation rising 1.74 percent to 293 rand.

Gareth Curry, a portfolio manager at Sanlam Private Wealth, said better-than-anticipated U.S. bank results had pulled up U.S. stocks, ultimately helping the South African market.

“On the back of [a stronger Dow], the dollar was a little weaker, which is assisting the rand to strengthen, which in turn is assisting the all-share to go up,” he said. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Onke Ngcuka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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