Rand up after inflation data


South Africa’s rand snapped a three-day losing streak on Wednesday as inflation data was in line with expectations, while emerging market stocks rose after breaking a 10-day rally in the previous session.

While the dollar gained against the yen JPY= following the Bank of Japan’s decision to keep monetary policy easy, the greenback USD= was still weak broadly. FRX/

Optimism around China’s border reopening and hopes for smaller interest rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve have spurred risk-on sentiment lately.

MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies .MIEM00000CUS was back in positive territory after a two-day pause in its 15-day rally, while its stocks counterpart .MSCIEF also resumed its advance, up 0.3%.

South Africa’s rand ZAR= rose 0.6%, after losing 1.7% over the last three sessions.

Data showed South Africa’s headline consumer inflation slowed to 7.2% year-on-year in December from 7.4% in November, in line with analysts’ estimates. Investors will now focus on the South African Reserve Bank’s policy meeting next week.

“We think that a slowdown in the tightening cycle is nailed on. We expect a 50 basis points increase in the benchmark rate, to 7.50%, next week,” said Virág Fórizs, EM economist at Capital Economics.

The central bank has raised interest rates in its last seven monetary policy meetings, increasing them by 75 bps in its latest meet.

Among emerging market stocks, NetEase 9999.HK jumped 6.5%, while Tencent 0700.HK climbed 1.7% after China’s video games regulator granted the first gaming licences in 2023, further easing an industry crackdown.

In less than three weeks of 2023, foreign buying of Chinese stocks has exceeded last year’s total, while foreign investors increased their holdings in China’s onshore bonds in December after a record 10 months of outflows, official data showed on Wednesday.

“We recently lifted China to most preferred in our Asia strategy,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

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