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UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand extends losses on cabinet reshuffle talk, stocks up
March 29, 2017 / 6:09 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand extends losses on cabinet reshuffle talk, stocks up

* Rand down 0.42 pct

* Stocks inch up 0.26 pct

* Bonds under pressure

* Investors awaiting clarity on possible reshuffle (Adds fresh quotes, stocks, updates levels)

JOHANNESBURG, March 29 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand and bonds extended losses on Wednesday, amid speculation of an imminent cabinet shake-up that could see Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan removed, but stocks inched up.

Local assets have been under pressure since President Jacob Zuma ordered Gordhan on Monday to abandon an investor roadshow in Britain and fly home, triggering questions about his future. Zuma has not given a reason for the recall.

The rand was volatile for the third straight day, falling 0.42 percent against the dollar to 13.0400 by 1546 GMT compared to its New York close of 12.9850.

The rand briefly turned positive for the first time since Monday after two sources told Reuters that the top six people in South Africa’s ruling African National Congress were divided down the middle on whether to remove Gordhan.

Speculation is swirling that Zuma might remove Gordhan after the funeral of anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada or after a cabinet meeting following that.

“The rand will probably still remain at these weaker levels until we get some clarity,” said Rand Merchant Bank rand trader Ian Martin.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index rose 0.42 percent to 45,404 points while the All-Share index gained 0.26 percent to 52,444 points.

Among the gainers, platinum producers Lonmin and Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd, inched up 0.49 percent to 14.50 and 0.67 to 33.25 rand respectively on higher platinum prices.

The banking index however, bucked the trend, falling 2.45 percent with investors in a wait-and-see mode.

“Local political news is now pretty much everything for the local market,” Rand Merchant Bank currency strategists John Cairns said.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 2 basis points to 8.735 percent. (Reporting by Olwethu Boso and Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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