Rand outshines global currencies

Johannesburg – The rand advanced 1.6% to 13.6886 against the dollar by 17:36 in Johannesburg, its strongest level on a closing basis since October 27 and the best performance among 31 global currencies.

The rand also led gains against the British pound, gaining 3% to 17.9807 after the Bank of England cut its main lending rate to the lowest on record as it tries to support the UK economy against fallout from Brexit. The move is likely to drive investors to high-yielding emerging market assets, such as South Africa’s bonds.

“The search for global yields is continuing and the rand has been a major benefactor of it,” said Wichard Cilliers, a trader at Treasuryone in Pretoria. “South Africa is a very liquid currency, the election is going smoothly too, that’s all benefiting the rand.”

The unit returned 1.3% in the carry trade, the most in the world and nearly three times the next-best currency, the Australian dollar, rewarding investors who buy riskier assets with money borrowed from countries with lower rates.

Orderly elections for municipal leaders held on Wednesday boosted sentiment toward South Africa, with the opposition Democratic Alliance increasing its share of the vote while the ruling African National Congress’ majority narrowed.

With about 70% of results in, the DA was leading in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and running neck-in-neck with the ANC in Johannesburg and Pretoria.