Newly printed one hundreded rand Mandela notes. File Picture: REUTERS
Newly printed one hundreded rand Mandela notes. File Picture: REUTERS

The rand held up relatively well on Tuesday morning, though increasingly skittish global markets clouded its short- to medium-term outlook.

The value of the local currency has swung violently in recent days, reflecting investors’ increasing concern about the health of global growth.

Concerns were more crystallised in the local bond market, where foreigners sold nearly R11bn worth of local debt on a net basis over the past week.

Foreigners hold the biggest share of local bonds at about 40%, rendering them vulnerable to capital outflows when global sentiment takes a knock.

The rand has dropped just more than 3% against the dollar so far in December, partially negating the net positives of weaker international oil prices.

On Friday, the Automobile Association predicted that retail price of petrol would drop R1.19 a litre and diesel R1.44 in January, but cautioned that the rand remained a wild card. SA is a net importer of petroleum products.

The US Federal Reserve will take centre stage on Wednesday, against the backdrop of poor global sentiment. The Fed will likely raise interest rates by 25 basis points, as expected, but markets will closely monitor its guidance for 2019.

US Fed chair Jerome Powell signalled just more than two weeks ago that the Fed could pause its interest-rate-hiking cycle. That could hurt the dollar and boost high-yielding emerging-market currencies, such as the rand.

At 9.46am, the rand was 0.59% stronger against the dollar at R14.3159/$, 0.56% better against the euro at R16.2455/€ and 0.43% better against the pound at R18.0871/£. The euro was flat against the dollar at $1.1347.

Local bonds had improved, with the yield on the benchmark R186 rising to 9.16%, from 9.19% at its last settlement.