JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s rand weakened early on Friday after President Jacob Zuma raised an issue regarding the wealth distribution in an economy that is still controlled mostly by whites for more than two decades after the apartheid ended in 1994.
* At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 13.4400 per dollar, 0.49 percent weaker from its New York close on Thursday.
* In his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, which was marred by chaos as far-left lawmakers brawled with orderlies and the main opposition party walked out, Zuma said his government was starting a new chapter of radical socio-economic transformation.
* “If there is a concern, it was the overall tone of interventionism and increased regulation, but this is probably too subtle to worry the market given we are in a country where we worry about the firing of the finance minister,” Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns wrote in a note.
* A strong dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would announce the most ambitious tax reform plan since the Reagan era in the next few weeks also weighed on the rand.
* Stocks are set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index up 0.74 percent.
* In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 added 1.5 basis points to 8.82 percent. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)