South Africa’s rand retreated by more than one percent on Monday, while shares also wilted over resurfacing worries of a global trade war dented demand for riskier emerging markets.
At 1500 GMT the rand was 1.27 percent weaker at 13.6000 per dollar compared to Friday’s close at 13.4300.
The trade battle between China and the United States intensified on Monday as Washington said it was drafting curbs that would block firms with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying U.S. companies.
The latest wave of risk-off sentiment knocked most emerging markets and is prompting some investors to re-assess bets on the local currency as the enthusiasm over Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president in February gives way to economic realities.
“As we have stressed before, local factors are neutral for the local unit. What really matters at this point in time is the value of the U.S. dollar and EM risk sentiment,” said Rand Merchant Bank’s Isaah Mhlanga in a note.
In June the currency broke through a succession of technical support levels as it plunged just short of the 14.00 mark analysts see as turning point. So far this year, the rand is the fifth worst performing EM currency.
In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was up 5.5 basis points to 8.91 percent. South African stocks fell again on renewed jitters about the worsening trade dispute between the United States and other leading economies which could impact Pretoria’s ability to export a range of products and commodities.
“The rhetoric on these trade barriers is just getting worse and does not seem to be letting up,” said Greg Davies, inequities trader at Cratos Capital.
The benchmark Top-40 index shed 1.81 percent to 49, 707 while the wider All-share index dropped 1.7 percent to 55,889.