September 1, 2015 / 7:25 AM / 4 years ago

South Africa's rand gains but remains vulnerable to hawkish Fed

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand recovered to the dollar on Monday after the greenback sagged ahead of a slew of data due this week, but remained in the sell-off territory as heightened U.S. rate hike concerns weakened appetite for risky assets.

South African bank notes featuring images of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) are displayed next to the American dollar notes in this photo illustration in Johannesburg August 13 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

At 1542 GMT the rand was 0.45 percent firmer to 13.2495 per dollar, extending its recovery after tumbling to an all-time low of 14.00 last week.

“The movement in the rand was offshore, there’s definitely no improvement in the sentiment there but nothing substantial heading into the Fed meeting in a couple of weeks,” Christie Viljoen, Senior Economist NKC African Economics.

“I think it’s going to seesaw for quite a while.”

Traders warned that the local currency’s gain will be short-lived ahead of Tuesday’s Chinese PMI figure, and most importantly, Friday’s payroll data in the United States.

China lingers as a major concern for emerging market currencies like South Africa. China is the largest trading partner for Africa’s most industrialised economy, consuming its commodities.

Weak data from the world’s second-biggest economy read would send the market’s into a tailspin, traders said.

Viljoen added that there was not much enthusiasm to get the rand below the 12.00 rand mark as investors were avoiding risky assets heading to the Federal Reserve meeting on Sept. 16-17, which could result in them loosing money during volatility.

Investors shrugged off local trade balance data showing the trade account turned to an unexpected 400 million rand ($30 million)deficit in July after two months of large surpluses.

A Reuters Poll had forecast a surplus of 1.50 billion rand.

Analysts said renewed weakness of commodity prices and the planned mothballing of some mining shafts are likely to dampen exports of mineral products amid a weak local economic growth.

The yield for the 2026 benchmark was down 0.5 basis points at 8.355 percent.

$1 = 13.2485 rand

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