Rand slips after weak economic data; stocks lifted by rand hedges

The rand weakened on Thursday following weak data on the local economy and mixed signals by the European Central Bank on its stimulus programme.

Stocks closed slightly higher with rand-hedged companies benefiting from the weaker currency.

By 1445 GMT the rand had slipped 0.33% to 12.83 per dollar compared to an overnight close of 12.79 in New York.

South Africa’s manufacturing and mining data came in below expectations and ECB President Mario Draghi’s policy speech offered no clear timetable for winding back the bank’s bond buying programme.

Industrial output fell for a third consecutive month, dropping by 1.4% year-on-year in July, way below the consensus forecast of a 0.35% contraction. Mining output rose 0.9% year-on-year, lagging the consensus of a 2.8% increase.

On the stock market, the benchmark Top 40 Index was up 0.83% at 49,430 points, while the broader All Share Index climbed 0.72% to 55 878 points.

Rand hedges, shares of companies with operations abroad that make the bulk of their revenue outside South Africa and tend to benefit from a weaker rand, lifted the bourse.

Luxury goods maker Richemont, which has risen more than 30% this year, was up 2.20% to R117.90.

British American Tobacco gained 2.21% to R826.43 while Glencore was up 1.46% to R61.86.

Higher gold prices boosted AngloGold Ashanti, with the bullion producer closing 3.16% higher at R137.50.

Bonds were firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper falling 2.5 basis to 8.42%. 

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