The rand declined for a second day as signs of a slowdown in China, South Africa’s biggest trading partner, damped prospects for the nation’s commodity exports.
The currency of Africa’s biggest economy retreated as much as 0.5 percent and traded less than 0.1 percent weaker at 7.5712 per dollar as of 4 p.m. in Johannesburg. Yields on the government’s 6.75 percent bonds due 2021 were unchanged at 7.84 percent.
China’s exports grew at a slower pace than forecast, contributing to the biggest trade deficit in at least 22 years last month, data showed March 10, adding to figures last week on factory output and retail sales that signaled slowing economic growth. China buys about 14 percent of South Africa’s exports, according to government data.
“This has rekindled fears of a ‘hard landing’ for the Chinese economy and, by extension, the global economy,” Nomvuyo Guma, a currency strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg, said in e-mailed comments. “With the possibility of further quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve in doubt, much of what was keeping markets buoyant over the past months has faded, which will likely weigh on risky assets.”
The dollar rose against most of its major peers today before a report tomorrow forecast to show retail sales in the U.S. increased in February, reducing chances the Federal Reserve will add to monetary stimulus.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said on Jan. 25 policy makers were considering additional asset purchases to boost growth. The Fed has pledged to keep its benchmark rate at almost zero through at least late 2014 and has previously purchased $2.3 trillion of securities in two rounds of so-called quantitative easing.
Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index (SPGSCI) of raw materials fell for the first time in four days as the prices of metals including gold, copper and nickel declined. Metals and other commodities account for 65 percent of South Africa’s export earnings, according to government data for 2011.
Credit default swaps on the nation’s foreign-currency sovereign bonds dropped 1.4 basis point to 158.9 basis points on Friday, a second day of declines, according to CMA.
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