August 4, 2017 / 3:56 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand languishes at 3-week lows, stocks inch up

(Updates prices)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 4 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand fell to a new three-week low against the dollar on Friday as strong U.S. jobs data coupled with local economic and political risks dented investors’ appetite for the currency.

At 1520 GMT, the rand traded at 13.4575 per dollar, 0.5 percent weaker than its New York close on Thursday.

The rand attempted a recovery in the session, touching a day high of 13.3150, but gave up the gains after a strong U.S. July payrolls report attracted traders to the dollar.

The rand, trading at its weakest levels since July 12, has this week also been hit by fears of a third credit rating downgrade to “junk” ahead of review by Moody’s on Aug. 11.

“Although our base case scenario is for no further credit rating downgrades this year, the risk remains high over the medium term if economic growth does not revive, particularly in view of the associated fiscal risks,” Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan wrote in a note.

The market was also cautious ahead of a vote on a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma on Aug. 8. If the motion succeeds, Zuma and his entire cabinet would have to step down.

On the bourse, stocks ended slightly higher with Mediclinic on top of the leader board on the blue-chip index after brokerage house Credit Suisse raised it price target on the private hospital group.

Mediclinic, which is also listed in London was up 2.7 percent at 130.77 rand. On the downside, Liberty Holdings slumped 6 percent to 105.50 rand after the insurer posted a one-third drop in half-year profit.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 0.5 basis points to 8.655 percent. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Tiisetso Motsoeng; editing by David Evans)

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