Rand slides nearly 1% as US Fed signals policy tightening
The rand slid nearly 1% against the dollar on Thursday morning, extending losses a day after the US Federal Reserve provided the clearest indication that it is ready to hike interest rates, but stopped short of indicating how aggressive any hikes would be.
The rand was at R15.40/$ in early trade, pulling back from R15.15 reached on Wednesday before the conclusion of the Fed’s policy meeting.
The JSE was poised for a bumpy session, after its counterparts in Asia fell between 2% and 3%, as the Fed’s hawkish tone ripped through markets. Wall Street reversed steeper gains to end little changed on Wednesday night.
Fed chair Jerome Powell said the incoming data will guide the policy path, but emphasised the underlying strength of the US economy and jobs market, despite the tail risks of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
“The labour market has made remarkable progress, and by many measures is very strong. Jobs have been solid in recent months, averaging 365,000 per month over the past three months. Over the past year, payroll employment has risen by 6.4-million jobs, the unemployment rate has declined sharply,” Powell told the media conference.
“Labour demand remains historically strong. With constraints on labour supply, employers are having difficulty in filling job openings and wages are rising at the fastest pace in many years.”
Commodity prices were mostly weaker, with Brent crude giving up 0.49% to trade at $89.29 a barrel, though it was still up about 14% year to date.
The main event on the SA calendar on Thursday is the policy meeting by the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee, which is widely expected to raise hike rates by 25 basis points.
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