Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

The rand was firmer against the dollar on Wednesday afternoon following the release of positive consumer inflation data.

Risk factors favoured the rand on the day, including the resignation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe late on Tuesday and the expected return of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa to the country on Thursday. He will be sworn in as interim president on Friday.

The rand reached R13.8627 to the dollar in intra-day trade, the best level in nearly a month.

The dollar was largely unchanged to the euro, ahead of the release of US Federal Reserve minutes at 9pm SA-time. The minutes will give an indication of how Fed members view a probable interest-rate increase in December, and further hikes in 2018.

"The minutes were likely to further boost markets’ already high expectations of a December rate hike," analysts at BlackRock said.

At 3pm the rand was at R13.8922 to the dollar from R13.9706, at R16.3171 to the euro from R16.3985 and R18.3638 to the pound from R18.4954.

The euro was at $1.1745 from $1.1737.

The consumer price index (CPI) for October rose 4.8% year on year, in line with market expectations, from 5.1% in the previous month. However, core inflation was slightly lower than expected, at 4.5% compared with a Trading Economics forecast of 4.6%.

Average inflation is likely to remain just below the top end of the Reserve Bank’s targeted 3%-6% over the next few years.

Investec economists have forecasted CPI inflation to rise to an annual 5.7% and 5.8% for 2018 and 2019 respectively from 5.3% in 2017 on a strengthening global cycle, a further lift in commodity prices and higher local administered tariffs.

"In tomorrow’s monetary policy statement the Reserve Bank is likely to reiterate that the balance of risk to inflation remained to the upside, mainly on the volatile rand," said Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan.

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