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Rand Declines Before Retail Sales, Mining Data; Yields Rise

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Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The rand weakened, extending this year’s worst slide among emerging-market currencies, before the release of retail sales and mining production data that may show Africa’s biggest economy is faltering.

South Africa’s currency traded 0.4 percent weaker at 8.9129 per dollar as of 5:16 p.m. in Johannesburg, bringing its retreat this year to 4.9 percent. Yields on 6.75 percent bonds due 2021 climbed one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 6.42 percent.

Retail sales growth probably slowed to 1.6 percent in December, from 3.4 percent a month earlier, a report on Feb. 13 will show, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey. Mining production contracted 3.2 percent, a separate report may show on Feb. 14. President Jacob Zuma is delivering his state-of-the-nation address to lawmakers on Feb. 14 amid concern about labor unrest, job losses and above-inflation wage increases.

“The local focus continues to be on the interplay between the macro backdrop and socio-political tensions,” Carmen Nel, a Cape Town-based analyst at Rand Merchant Bank, said in e-mailed comments. Mining data “is expected to confirm a bad fourth quarter,” she said.

The Reserve Bank held the repurchase rate at 5 percent last month as a weak rand put pressure on inflation, preventing policy makers from offering more stimulus to the economy after a surprise rate cut in July. Africa’s biggest economy expanded 2.5 percent last year, the slowest pace since a recession in 2009, according to the government and central bank estimates.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net.

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