Rand breaches 12.00 mark against dollar, at strongest since 2015

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JOHANNESBURG, January 24 (ANA) – South Africa’s rand strengthened against the dollar on Wednesday, breaching the 12.00 level for the first time since 2015 as the market remains euphoric after deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s election in December to lead the ruling ANC party.

By around 1255 am the rand was trading at 11.96 against the U.S. currency.

Analysts said the current drive by the African National Congress (ANC) government to try and restore South Africa’s investment image after corruption scandals involving senior officials was helping market sentiment.

Investec analyst Annabel Bishop said this was adding on to the effect of a weaker dollar due to US economic policy concerns.

“Positive comments from SA officials in Davos on SA about ending corruption, repairing SOE (state-owned enterprises) governance and the health of public finances, maintaining key institutional strengths and promoting economic growth have also assisted in the lift in the domestic currency,” Bishop said.

Earlier on Wednesday, trade and industry minister Rob Davies told the African News Agency (ANA) on the side-lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that there was optimism around the country’s growth prospects, partly helped by a more stable political outlook after the ANC’s December conference.

Investec’s Bishop warned that risks remained for the rand, saying ratings agencies who have downgraded South Africa to sub-investment grade would watch the budget in February “for both fiscal consolidation and the avoidance of excessive tax hikes that strangle economic growth”.

“Moody’s, the last key agency which has SA on investment grade, is set to deliver a downgrade after the budget if the above priorities are not met, and if insufficient progress has been made on SOE governance reform,” she added.

– African News Agency (ANA)