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South African rand firms after strong U.S. jobs data

11/05/2021 | 11:18am EST
A street trader counts out change for a customer in Durban

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand firmed on Friday along with other emerging market currencies after a volatile week with price swings driven by domestic politics and U.S. monetary policy.

At 1513 GMT, the rand traded at 15.13 against the U.S. dollar, 0.49% stronger than its previous close.

The rand was supported by strong U.S. jobs data, which boosted optimism about the global economic recovery. [EMRG/FRX]

Non-farm payrolls increased by 531,000 jobs last month as the surge in COVID-19 infections over the summer subsided, offering more evidence that U.S economic activity was regaining momentum early in the fourth quarter.

The rand's gains were capped, however, by a poor showing by the governing African National Congress (ANC) in municipal elections. The final count released late on Thursday showed the ANC took 46% of the vote, its worst result since taking power at the end of white minority rule in 1994.

ANC's support dropping below 50% raised the possibility - albeit still remote - that South Africa could be governed by a different party in the not too distant future.

"Investors are likely happy with the poll results themselves, but not with a coalition prospect of the ANC and EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) as this would herald a swing towards the extreme left, with the EFF already stating it requires the ANC to join on it on its extreme total land confiscation aims," said Annabel Bishop, Investec's chief economist.

Technology stocks, meanwhile, weighed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Top-40 Index. It fell 0.48% and the broader All-Share Index closed down 0.49%.

The tech index fell 3.24%, led by market heavyweights Naspers and its subsidiary Prosus which both fell more than 3%.

Bucking the downward trend was MTN, which jumped 13.15% after Africa's biggest mobile operator by subscribers got in-principle approval to operate its mobile money service MoMo in Nigeria.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark 2030 government bond was down 6 basis points to 9.450%.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla and Alexander Winning; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and David Clarke)

ę Reuters 2021
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