The rand was marginally firmer against major global currencies on Wednesday afternoon‚ gaining most against the pound‚ after positive retail sales and inflation figures provided a boost to sentiment.
Earlier‚ consumer inflation moderated to an annual pace of 3.8% in March‚ despite a consensus forecast by economists of a slight acceleration from February’s 4%.
This represented the lowest inflation level since February 2011‚ largely due to decreased fuel and food prices. While this is expected to be the low point of the current inflation cycle‚ it is also expected to remain within the Reserve Bank’s target range of 3% to 6%.
The better-than-expected inflation outcomes of recent months strengthen the case for accommodative monetary policy‚ Nedbank Group Economic Unit analysts.
Retail sales in February also surprised to the upside‚ growing 4.9% year-on-year in February.
Internationally‚ the pound was under selling pressure after inflation data from that country also came in lower than expected. While this drop was driven by the volatile components that were measured‚ the data still raised doubts about how quickly the Bank of England would tighten monetary policy — particularly in 2019‚ analysts said.
At 3pm‚ the rand was at R11.9454 to the dollar from R11.9835‚ R14.8011 to the euro from R14.8205 and at R17.0079 to the pound from R17.1243.
The euro was at $1.2391‚ from $1.2369.