South Africa’s rand steady in calm trade after coronavirus slide

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South Africa’s rand traded slightly firmer early on Friday, recovering from a sharp dip in the previous session after the country confirmed its first case of coronavirus.

At 0715 GMT the rand was 0.1% firmer at 15.6100 per dollar, pulling back from a four-session low of 15.7380 as some calm returned and investors picked off profits.

South Africa on Thursday confirmed its first case of coronavirus in a citizen who had passed through the main airport showing no symptoms on his way back from a trip to Italy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the virus would hurt travel and tourism, and have a negative impact on South Africa’s already struggling economy, but urged citizens not to panic.

“After having held steady over the most recent sessions, with a marginally firmer bias, the local unit has been put firmly on the back foot due to the spread of the coronavirus, demonstrating the local unit’s inherent vulnerability,” said Nedbank’s Reezwana Sumad in a note.

“Market focus today will be on the U.S. data and any potential central bank action.”

Bonds were weaker, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper up 7.5 basis points to 7.925%.

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