South Africa’s rand weakens ahead of retail sales

South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar early on Wednesday ahead of retail sales figures that should give more clues to the health of the economy in the first three months of the year.

At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 13.1050 per dollar, 0.38 percent weaker compared with its New York close of 13.0550 on Tuesday.

South Africa’s March retail sales figures are due at 1100 GMT and analysts forecast a year-on-year contraction of 0.7 percent after sales fell 1.7 percent in February.

Data last week showed South Africa recorded surprise improvements in mining and manufacturing output in March, putting the country on track to avoid slipping into a technical recession this year.

Stocks were set to open lower at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index down 0.34 percent.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 2.5 basis points to 8.6 percent.

Reuters/Ime N