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Rand Declines as Metal Prices, Stocks Retreat on U.S. Jobs Data

Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The rand declined for the first time in three days as metal prices and stocks fell after U.S. jobless claims climbed more than forecast, raising doubt about the pace of recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

South Africa’s currency retreated as much as 0.9 percent, and traded 0.4 percent weaker at 8.6357 per dollar as of 4:06 p.m. in Johannesburg, having gained as much as 0.7 percent earlier. The currency advanced 2.2 percent in the previous two trading days. Yields on 6.75 percent bonds due 2021 dropped two basis points to 6.63 percent.

Jobless claims increased by 46,000 to 388,000 in the week ended Oct. 13 from a revised 342,000 the prior period that was the lowest since February 2008, more than the 365,000 median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Copper fell as much as 0.7 percent in London, and South Africa’s benchmark stock index dropped for the first time in four days.

“The bias of risks to the currency is still negative,” Brice Donald, a Johannesburg-based currency strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., the nation’s biggest rand trader, said by phone. “The commodity cycle is against us, and domestic fundamentals are rather fragile.”

Metals and other commodities account for 45 percent of South Africa’s exports, according to government data. The nation has the world’s biggest reserves of platinum and chrome. The U.S. accounts for 8 percent of South Africa’s exports.

The rand’s decline was hastened as it failed in earlier trading to hold below 8.550 per dollar, seen as a significant support level to further dollar declines, Donald said. Support levels are where traders cluster orders to buy a currency or security.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Brand in Cape Town at rbrand9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net

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