Rand declines before US federal policy meeting

The rand depreciated on Tuesday while bonds rose amid bets South Africa’s budget balance swung to a surplus last month.

The Federal’s open market committee, which has said it may start paring stimulus should the US economy meet the central bank’s forecasts, starts a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. South Africa posted a budget surplus in June for the first time in three months, a report may show.


“All eyes are on the Fed,” Mohammed Nalla, head of strategic research at Nedbank Group in Johannesburg, said. “Any sign that implies they might taper their asset purchases sooner rather than later will” undermine the rand, he said.


The rand depreciated 0.4% to 9.8363 per dollar as of 11.11am in Johannesburg, trimming the gain in July to 0.5%. Yields on benchmark 10.5% bonds due December 2026 dropped five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 8.17%. The yield is up 26 basis points this month.


South Africa’s budget surplus in June was R16.5-billion, compared with a shortfall of R17.5-billion the previous month, the National Treasury may report at 2pm local time, according to the median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey.


“Today’s [Tuesday's] data should, on the balance, be positive for the market,” Rand Merchant Bank fixed-income analysts Carmen Nel in Cape Town and Mamello Matikinca in Johannesburg said in emailed comments.


The monthly budget surplus “may bring temporary relief to the local market”, which has encountered “a bit of a demand deficit for government bonds”, they said. – Bloomberg

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