Rand Weakens for First Time in Five Days on U.S. Debt Stalemate

The rand declined for the first time in five days and bond yields rose as U.S. lawmakers struggled to reach an accord on raising the nation’s debt limit and restoring government operations, damping demand for riskier assets.

Senate leaders have yet to reach an agreement on how to end the fiscal impasse amid mounting concern in financial markets three days before the government’s borrowing authority lapses. South African retail sales grew at the slowest pace in 3 1/2 years in August, a report may show this week.

“The markets remain exceptionally cautious as the possibility of a default, although unlikely, is a scenario nobody can afford,” Mohammed Nalla, head of strategic research at Nedbank Group Ltd., said in an e-mailed note.

South Africa’s currency depreciated 0.5 percent to 9.9390 per dollar as of 4:01 p.m. in Johannesburg. Yields on benchmark bonds due December 2026 climbed four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 7.90 percent.

The congressional deadlock over increasing the U.S. debt ceiling from $16.7 trillion is threatening the U.S. and world economies, said International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

“If there is that degree of disruption, that lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the U.S. signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over,” Lagarde said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program about the effect of not raising the borrowing limit. “And we would be at risk of tipping, yet again, into recession.”

South Africa retail-sales growth slowed to 1.1 percent in August, from 2.8 percent the previous month, a report may show this week, according to the median estimate of 12 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Growth at that rate would be the slowest since February 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Foreign investors bought a net 1.89 billion rand ($190 million) of South African bonds last week, while selling 4.87 billion rand of equities, bringing net portfolio outflows for the week to 2.98 billion rand, according to JSE Ltd. data.

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