S. Africa’s rand firms as growth, vaccine hopes drive mood for risk

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand firmed in early trade on Wednesday ahead of consumer inflation data and as hopes of economic recovery increased global risk appetite.

At 0645 GMT the rand was up 0.31% at 16.6800 per dollar against an overnight close of 16.7325, tracking a rising euro, which led the way as the greenback continued to wobble.

The euro, a barometer for global risk demand, rose to a four-month high against the dollar on expectations European Union leaders may agree on stimulus and deepening fiscal integration to shield the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most emerging currencies followed suit as renewed hopes of a faster global economic recovery drove demand for riskier, but high-yielding currencies, such as the rand, which has managed to brush-off signs of a weak local economy.

Consumer inflation data for South Africa due at 0800 GMT is set to show price-growth at even lower levels than last month’s 15-year low, boosting the chances of another lending rate cut when the local central bank meets later in July.

Hopes of progress in finding a vaccine to counter the pandemic added to the positive mood.

Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine showed it was safe and provoked immune responses to the novel coronavirus in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; editing by Barbara Lewis

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