The rand headed for a nine-month high against the dollar to lead global currency gains as results from South African local government elections showed a swing to the main opposition.
Early counting from municipal voting held on Wednesday showed the governing ANC trailing the Democratic Alliance in the country’s financial hub and biggest city of Johannesburg, and in the capital, Pretoria, even as it leads the overall national vote.
Expectations that the Bank of England would cut interest rates to support its economy after Brexit supported emerging markets, driving investors to South Africa’s high-yielding bonds and boosting the rand.
By 11.34am in Johannesburg, the rand was 0,8% stronger at R13,80/US$, advancing for a second day to be the best performer among global currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
A close at this level would be its highest since 3 November 2015. The rand also led gains against the euro and the British pound, heading for its strongest close against sterling since May 2015.
“The election outcome seems to be supporting expectations of a change in major cities,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, emerging-market strategist at Legal & General Investment Management in London. “A wind of change is what markets have been looking for, however small it may be, given the sustained income inequality and continued drop in growth rates.”
Yields on benchmark government rand bonds due in December 2026 declined nine basis points to 8,57%, the lowest on a closing basis since 27 November. The benchmark stock index advanced by 0,3%, led by Sasol, Naspers and Standard Bank Group.
“Smooth-running local elections are helping the sentiment this morning, it looks like our democracy is still in good order, so that’s good news,” said Ion de Vleeschauwer, chief dealer at Bidvest Bank in Johannesburg. “The carry play is also helping things along with the Bank of England expected to cut rates today, our yields are looking attractive in the short term.”
The BoE is due to publish a full assessment of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy and its plan of defence. The consensus of economists in a Bloomberg survey is for the bank to lower its main lending rate to a record low, making high-yielding assets in emerging economies such as South Africa more attractive for investors. — (c) 2016 Bloomberg LP
- Reported with assistance from Maria Levitov