South African rand weak as SARB lifts repo rate again

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank hiked its main lending rate by 75 basis points to tame rising inflation.

At 1609 GMT, the rand traded at 17.0150 against the dollar, 0.29% weaker than its previous close.

The move to 7%, which was forecast by a majority of economists polled by Reuters, came after Wednesday’s data showed annual consumer inflation rose to 7.6% in October from 7.5% in September, a first rise after two consecutive declines.

The South African Reserve Bank has now raised rates seven times in a row, lifting its repo rate by 350 bps since November 2021.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also cut its economic growth forecast for 2022 to 1.8%, from 1.9% previously. It forecast growth of 0.4% in the third quarter and 0.1% in the final quarter, which the governor said was due to “record load shedding”.

“Heading into the meeting, the market’s pricing was split between a 50 bp and a 75 bp outcome, so the reaction from the rand and rates was minimal following the announcement,” Carmen Nel, Economist and Macro Strategist at Matrix Fund Managers said.

“The rand was also unaffected by the outcome, but has been trading slightly weak relative to the level on the US Dollar Index.”

Stocks on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) closed slightly higher, helped in part by rising commodity prices. [GOL/]

The mining index climbed 1.55%, led by gold miner Sibanye Stillwater up 3.79%, as bullion prices rose to a near one-week high on a weaker dollar, after minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s November meeting signaled it may soon slow the pace of interest rate hikes.

Technology investor Naspers and its majority-owned subsidiary Prosus rose 2.63% after Prosus said on Wednesday it would launch a cost cutting drive as it seeks to turn a profit in its core businesses within two years.

Overall, the benchmark all-share index closed 0.32% higher at 73,127 points, while the blue-chip index of top 40 companies ended up 0.37% at 66,764 points.

The government’s benchmark 2030 bond was slightly stronger with the yield down 4 bps at 10.155%.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; ​​Editing by Jon Boyle)

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