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South Africa's Rand in Weekly Drop as Gold and Platinum Prices Decline

South Africa's Rand in Weekly Drop as Gold and Platinum Prices Decline < News < Bet On Markets

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s rand posted its first weekly drop versus the dollar in a month, after the prices of gold and platinum, which account for about a fifth of the nation’s exports, slumped.

Gold fell 4.4 percent in the past five days, the biggest weekly loss in almost eight months, as the dollar’s first weekly gain against the euro eroded the appeal of the precious metals to investors. Platinum also slid 4.4 percent this week, the most since mid-April.

``We saw an incredible drop in gold and platinum’’ prices this week, Leon Myburgh, head of research at Barclays Capital in Johannesburg, said yesterday.

The rand fell to 5.815 per dollar in Johannesburg yesterday compared with 5.705 on Dec. 3. It fell 1.9 percent this week, making it the ninth worst-performer versus the dollar of the 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

Gold, which accounts for 13 percent of South African exports, lost 3 percent on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, while platinum plunged 5.6 percent. The dollar strengthened against all 16 major currencies monitored by Bloomberg on those two days.

South Africa’s currency, the world’s second-best performer against the dollar this year, had advanced 7.4 percent in the three weeks ended Dec. 3, as gold and other commodity prices gained, and growth accelerated in Africa’s biggest economy.

Economic Expansion

Economic expansion reached an annualized 5.6 percent in the third quarter, the fastest pace since 1996, as spending surged, and boosted by the lowest interest rates for two decades.

The rand may trade between 5.70 and 5.95 per dollar next week after the central bank maintained its benchmark rate of 7.5 percent, said Marc Copeland, a Johannesburg-based trader at Barclays. The unchanged stance maintains the yield advantage of rand denominated assets. The Federal Reserve’s target interest rate is currently at 2 percent.

Chris Hart, treasury economist at Absa Group Ltd., South Africa’s biggest consumer bank, forecast a range of between 5.68 to 5.93 per dollar next week.

``I think we should see the currency head higher again,’’ Hart said in a telephone interview. ``International factors will be driving it with dollar weakness forging through to the rand.’’

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