Rand firms as fears of downgrades abate
The rand was firmer against major global currencies shortly before midday on Friday, as the local currency continued to find support from easing fears of further downgrades of SA’s sovereign debt.
On Thursday, the Treasury had said all three major global ratings agencies had given positive feedback on the tabling of the budget earlier this week.
Given these comments, the likelihood that Moody’s would downgrade SA debt to sub-investment grade was low, Rand Merchant Bank analyst Isaah Mhlanga said. The review, however, was only due on March 23, with local focus currently on the ANC, which will meet at the weekend.
Speculation is rife that a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent. Expectations are that President Cyril Ramaphosa will proceed cautiously, as he seeks to consolidate his authority in the ANC and the government, in order to drive his promised policy agenda.
BMI Research, however, said earlier it expected the rand’s "Ramaphosa rally" to eventually recede, saying opposition within the ANC was likely to hobble market-friendly reform efforts.
As a result, foreign investment was unlikely to pick up in any significant way‚ contributing to a depreciation from R11.67/$ currently to up to R14.80/$ by 2019, BMI said.
Globally, the dollar continued to find support from recent hawkish comments from the US Federal Reserve, given a further boost from jobs data for January on Thursday, analysts said.
At 11.30am, the rand was at R11.5968 to the dollar from R11.6558, R14.2770 to the euro from R14.3736 and at R16.2037 to the pound from R16.2642.
The euro was at $1.2312 from $1.2331