Tuesday , January 19 2021

The edge of S.Africa recovers after busy week; shares hit new highs

South African Rand Coins can be seen in this illustration photo taken on October 28, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Hutchings / Illustration

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African rand confirmed on the dollar on Friday, recovering ground after a difficult week in which the country recorded a peak in daily COVID-19 infections and doubts about its fax facilities emerged.

At 1623 GMT, the rand was trading at 15.3275 against the US currency, up 0.8% from its previous close.

The rand was helped in part by the dollar’s expectations of a weak US jobs report, although news that South Africa would receive a first batch of faxes from the Serum Institute of India also comforted investors.

However, the rand was still on course this week for losses of more than 4% against the greenback.

The government has come under fire in recent days for harsh criticism from scientists, trade unions and health workers over its fax strategy. At a time when richer nations are already rolling out immunizations, South Africa has not yet received its first doses and has only recently made its vaccination plans public.

A slow vaccination program would further deepen the prospects for economic recovery in the continent’s most industrialized nation.

Johannesburg-listed stocks rose for the fifth consecutive day on Friday, reaching record highs, with the all-share index closing 0.76% at 63,519 points and the blue-chip top-40 index 0.72% higher at 58,423 points.

Petrochemicals firm Sasol was below profit, growing 4.56% after oil prices rose.

By limiting further gains, gold stocks fell 3.23% after the bullion price weakened. Government bonds did not change much, with the yield on the 2030 bond at 8,795%.

Report by Alexander Winning and Tanisha Heiberg; Edited by Kirsten Donovan

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