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Rand Leads Currency Declines as Zuma Replaces Finance Minister

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s rand led currency declines a day after President Jacob Zuma replaced Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and appointed new ministers to portfolios including mining and energy.

The rand snapped three days of gains, weakening 0.5 percent to 10.3478 per dollar by 4:19 p.m. in Johannesburg, the most among 31 emerging-market and major currencies monitored by Bloomberg. Yields on government bonds due December 2026 climbed seven basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 8.12 percent.

Zuma, 72, who took office for a second five-year term after the ruling African National Congress’ election win on May 7, promoted Nhlanhla Nene, a deputy to Gordhan, who headed the ministry since 2009. He enlarged his cabinet to 35 members from 33 and created a ministry responsible for small-business development.

The cabinet “is less business-friendly than the market expected,” John Cairns, a foreign-currency strategist at Rand Merchant Bank in Johannesburg, said in a note to clients. Nene’s experience as deputy minister should reassure markets about policy continuity, RMB said.

Data tomorrow may show South Africa’s economy contracted in the first quarter as a strike at platinum mines curbed production, weighing on the rand. Gross domestic product probably fell 0.2 percent in the three months through March, compared with growth of 3.8 percent the previous quarter, according to the median estimate of 22 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Weaker growth is “rand negative” because it reduces the likelihood of a central-bank rate increase and puts pressure on the current-account deficit, Bruce Donald, head of currency strategy at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg, said in a note to clients.

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

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

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