JOHANNESBURG – The rand was slightly firmer on Friday, although still close to multi-year lows, as the market awaits US employment figures later in the session.
The rand was at R10.44/$ at 08:16, up 0.2% from the previous day's New York close, and showing no reaction to news of the death of former President Nelson Mandela.
The currency breached the R10.5000/$-level, its lowest in nearly five years on Wednesday as investors fled risky assets in anticipation of a scaling back of US quantitative easing.
A widening current account deficit has also put pressure on the rand. The Reserve Bank said on Tuesday the current account shortfall rose to 6.8% of GDP in Q3 from a revised 5.9 percent in Q2 as export earnings failed to keep up with the higher price of imports .
US non-farm payrolls data later on Friday will be closely watched as it could influence the timing of QE tapering.
"Tapering expectations will hinge on the outcome of the NFP number later and if it disappoints the rand could very well have a decent retracement," Standard Bank FX trader Jan de Fouw wrote in a note.
"If the number beats forecast and the rand closes the week above the trend line at 10.50 we will be in for more rand weakness."
The yield on the 2026 government bond fell 3.5 basis points to 8.435% while that on the 2015 paper was 2.5 basis points lower at 6.32%.