May 16, 2019 / 7:11 AM / 11 days ago

South Africa's rand slips as trade tensions weigh on risk demand

JOHANNESBURG, May 16 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened early on Thursday, succumbing to risk-off sentiment sparked by global fears over the tariff war between the United States and China.

At 0645 GMT the rand was 0.26 percent weaker at 14.2600 per dollar compared with an overnight close of 14.2125 in New York.

Having rallied to a two-week best of 14.1375 after the ruling African National Congress won a 58 percent majority that many investors see as key to economic reforms, the rand has slipped back towards the 14.40 mark. Tepid economic data locally, with the unemployment rate rising and retail sales advancing only 0.2 percent in March, added pressure on the currency following U.S. President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets escalating the standoff with China over trade terms.

The outlook for the rand and stocks is favourable, however, with low lending rates abroad and sliding inflation locally supporting carry trade by investors hunting for high-yield returns.

Bonds also weakened, with the benchmark 10-year bond’s yield adding 0.5 basis points to 8.425 percent.

In stocks, financial services group Investec said full-year earnings rose 3.6 percent despite challenges in its main markets, South Africa and Britain.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana, editing by Larry King

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