JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s rand edged firmer on Wednesday, clinging on to recent gains despite continued fallout triggered by a Moody’s ratings downgrade last week and an anticipated interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
At 0640 GMT, the rand traded 0.2 percent firmer at 12.7350 per dollar compared to close of 12.7600 overnight in New York, bringing weekly gains to around 1.3 percent.
Following a one notch downgrade to its lowest sovereign investment grade on Friday, Moody’s cut the ratings of a dozen banks and companies including embattled power utility Eskom, further shaking confidence in Africa’s most advanced economy.
Quarterly business confidence and April retail sales due in the session are expected to shed more light on ailing economy. Growth shrunk 0.7 percent in Q1 2017 after a 0.3 percent contraction in Q4 of 2016.
Traders expect the U.S. central bank to increase interest rates by a notch when it concludes a policy meeting on Thursday, a move that could dampen demand for high-yielding emerging market assets.
South African bonds were flat, with the yield on benchmark 2026 government bond inching up 0.5 basis points to at 8.445 percent.
Stocks set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index up 0.3 percent.