Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The rand was firmer against major global currencies on Wednesday afternoon, given a boost by better than expected local and international data.

The local currency led gains among its emerging-market peers, with sentiment lifted by faster than expected Chinese economic growth earlier.

The major domestic economic releases were also positive, with inflation rising to 4.5% in March year on year, lower than the 4.6% expected by the market.

Retail sales also surprised to the upside, growing 1.1% year on year in February, almost twice the 0.6% growth expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Although better than expected, February retail sales still represented a decline from the 1.2% growth seen in January, said Capital Economics senior emerging-markets economist John Ashbourne. Earlier economic releases, such as mining and manufacturing production, released last week, suggested the economy faltered at the start of 2019.

At 2.57pm the rand was 0.7% firmer at R13.9355/$, having earlier reached an intraday best of R13.9258. It had strengthened 0.62% to R18.1896/£ and 0.45% to R15.7581/€. The euro was 0.22% higher at $1.1305.

The benchmark R186 government bond was bid at 8.465% from 8.505%.

The local currency has been somewhat range bound this week, with trading subdued by the forthcoming Easter holidays. Volatility may pick up next week as the May 8 national polls approach, analysts said.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za