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SA’s power woes add stress to rand in risk-off trade

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The rand weakened past R18 per dollar for the first time since May 2020, as President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that rolling blackouts aren’t going away any time soon.

The currency weakened as much as 0.9% to R18.10 against the greenback by 10 a.m. in Johannesburg. Only South Korea’s won had registered greater losses in developing-nation currencies. This month, the rand is down 6.7%, behind the won and Chile’s peso.

The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. Investors globally are already fretting over higher interest rates to fight inflation even as that threatens to send the world’s economy into recession. The rand is vulnerable to sentiment as it’s used as a proxy in emerging markets due to its liquidity.

When judged against peers, like Mexico, it is possible to see the impact issues such as power cuts are having on the currency, said Warrick Butler, the Johannesburg-based head of foreign exchange trading at Standard Bank, in a note to clients. The next level to watch would be R18.17, which would open the way for R18.35.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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