Rand’s winning streak continues – but it could be short-lived

The rand continued to strengthen on Friday morning to reach R16.74/$ in early trade, after breaking through the R17/$ barrier two days earlier for the first time since the start of the lockdown in late March. 

By 11:00, it was trading 0.6% up on-day at R16.80 to the greenback.

At the start of April, by contrast, the rand was trading near historical lows of over R19 to the dollar. 

The local currency on Friday morning rallied on news that the European Central Bank has increased its stimulus programme by €600 million – above market expectations – and had further extended its emergency bond purchasing programme to June 21.

The dollar, in turn, weakened against most currencies.

But analysts have warned the rand’s winning streak may be short-lived.

“Both the euro and the rand are in overbought territory from a technical perspective and the possibility of a retracement in the short term is fairly high,” said Andre Botha, senior currency dealer at TreasuryONE.

Friday afternoon saw the dollar on stronger footing following a major surprise in the release of its non-farm payrolls data. instead of the roughly 8 million jobs expected to be lost, the data showed that 2.5 million jobs had been created, with the unemployment rate at 13.7% against an expectation that it would approach 20%. This follows hot on the heels of Thursday’s US jobless claims, which showed another 1.9 million people had filed for unemployment benefits. 

“The better than expected number did cause some damage on the commodity front with the safe haven that is Gold taking a bit of a pounding as it is down by 2.3% with renewed optimism in the US economy,” said Botha. 

He added: “It seems that the cord that rand was on, was stretched a little too far too quickly, as the rand ran into resistance at the 16.7200 level. The rand rebounded of the level and is currently trading at 16.8700. One of the reasons the rand stalled in it pursuit of stronger levels was the US dollar settling around the 1.1300 mark after looking like it wants to test weaker against the Euro in early trade.

“The dollar sure did up its footing after a better-than-expected US non-farm print this afternoon.” The Rand is caught between a US dollar that is firming up and positive risk sentiment from the equity indices, Botha said, forecasting an “interesting tug-of-war” that would drive the local currency in the short term.