Rand and stocks kick off new year on the front foot


Rand and stocks kick off new year on the front foot

By Reuters Time of article published 1h ago

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JOHANNESBURG – The rand kicked off 2021 on a strong note in early Monday trade, as investors pinned their hopes on a Covid-19 vaccination programme, while firmer commodity prices lifted stocks.

At 0712 GMT the rand was 0.61 percent firmer at 14.5637 against the dollar from a Dec. 31 close at 14.6700.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday that South Africa aims to get vaccines by next month but is still in talks with pharmaceutical companies and no deals have been signed yet, amid growing criticism of the government's response.

A resurgence in coronavirus infections has been driven partly by a new variant called 501.V2. Daily new cases hit a record 18,000 several days ago but have dipped slightly since.

Investors are still counting on central banks to keep money cheap while the global economy awaits a mass rollout of coronavirus vaccines to return to substantial growth.

A softening in the dollar also boosted emerging-market currencies.

South African stocks also firmed, lifted by commodity shares as gold prices hit an eight-week peak on Monday. Other commodities including oil, iron ore and copper also began 2021 on the front foot as vaccine rollouts and further fiscal support hopes spurred demand and boosted prices.

The Johannesburg All-Share index was 0.87 percent firmer at 0717 GMT, while the Top-40 index was up 0.99 percent.

Bonds weakened slightly, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 government issue up 0.5 basis points to 8.740 percent.


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