Picture: 123RF/LEON SWART
Picture: 123RF/LEON SWART

The rand was firmer against major global currencies on Wednesday afternoon, having breached the psychologically important R14/$ level for the first time since late February.

Analysts have expressed some surprise at the stability of the currency in spite of some global concern over slowing economic growth.

In the short term, the rand should be range-bound, and could extend gains given how much event risk has been priced in so far in 2019, said Mercato Financial Services analyst Nico du Plessis.

The rand led gains among emerging-market currencies on Wednesday, continuing to firm after the European Central Bank (ECB) left interest rates unchanged, as expected, and promised to continue monetary policy stimulus.

At 3.05pm the rand had firmed 1% to R13.9482/$, 1.16% to R15.6851/€ and 0.79% to R18.2476/£. The euro was flat at $1.1265.

Earlier, US inflation was a little higher than expected, at 1.9% year on year in March, compared to the Trading Economics consensus forecast of 1.8%.

Local news was downbeat, with the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) business confidence index falling 1.6 index points in March compared to February.

Market focus on Wednesday remains on Brexit, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May expected to receive an answer from the EU after requesting an extension of the Brexit deadline to June 30.

US Federal Reserve minutes will also be released after local markets close, and will be closely scrutinised.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za