May 4, 2019 / 8:08 AM / a month ago

South Africa's rand firms against greenback, stocks rise

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand firmed on Friday as a modest U.S. jobs report weighed on the dollar, although many investors stayed on the sidelines with national elections less than a week away.

People chat in front of a reception with an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

At 1500 GMT the rand was 1.11 percent stronger at 14.3533 to the dollar from an overnight close of 14.5675.

The dollar weakened as traders focused on weaker aspects of the April U.S. payrolls report, brushing aside stronger-than-forecast hiring and a drop in the jobless rate to a more than 49-year low.

“We’ve seen softer data coming out of the U.S. today...From that perspective, its definitely dollar weakness we’ve seen creep in this afternoon,” said Ryan Woods, a trader at Independent Securities.

Locally, South Africans go to the polls next week. Although political analysts say a victory for the governing African National Congress (ANC) is all-but assured, the party has been struggling to reverse dwindling support blamed in part on unfulfilled promises to improve the lives of millions of the country’s poorest people.

The yield on South Africa’s benchmark 10-year bond rose 5 basis points to 8.560 percent, while stocks gained.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 Index was 1.02 percent higher at 53,028.35, while the broader All-Share Index rose 1.01 percent to 59,335.90.

Telecommunications company MTN group was a top-performer, rising 1.74 percent to 105.3 rand after appointing former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas as chairman-designate in a board shake-up following a series of regulatory issues.

FNB wealth and investment portfolio manager Wayne McCurrie said it made sense for MTN to change its board now, as it lays out a new growth path.

“It’s quite clear that they view this as almost a reflection point in their history,” he said.

Shares of gold miners rose 1.5 percent with the price of gold price 0.76 percent higher at 1279.95.

Reporting by Onke Ngcuka and Naledi Mashishi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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