South African rand hits 6-month low amid global sell-off

, Economies

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s rand slumped to a new six-month low on Monday as emerging market currencies suffered a broad sell-off linked to rising U.S. Treasury yields.

At 1622 GMT, the rand was 0.67 percent weaker than Friday’s close at 13.8025 versus the dollar, after earlier falling as far as 13.8650 versus the greenback. The rand last traded at these levels on April 11.

Analysts said the local currency was mostly feeling the heat from market moves in the United States, where Treasury yields were at their highest level in several months.

Higher yields for safe-haven U.S. Treasuries dent the appeal of emerging market assets like South African bonds, which are seen as riskier investments.

The yield for South Africa’s benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 8 basis points to 8.785 percent on Monday, reflecting a fall in bond prices.

Political risks also weighed on sentiment as South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party prepares to pick a new leader at a conference in December.

“It’s more to do with U.S. Treasury yields that have shot up, and the rand is sort of a mirror image of that,” TreasuryOne currency dealer Andre Botha said, adding that a steep fall in the Turkish lira was also prompting a “risk-off” mood.

The tone for South African stocks was more upbeat, however.

The benchmark Top-40 index closed up 0.6 percent at 51,323 points, while the broader all-share index rose 0.5 percent to 57,530 points, reaching a new high of 57,750 in intra-day trading.

South African stocks have been lifted in recent months by the offshore earnings of a few companies, as well as by global flows into emerging market equities.

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On Monday, shares in Sasol rose after the petrochemical company said it had scrapped plans to issue around 43 million new shares to refinance a black economic empowerment transaction.

The planned bookbuild was seen as dilutive and led to a sell-off when announced last month, but Sasol shares on Monday recovered some of the earlier losses, advancing 2.9 percent to 396.26 rand.

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