The threat of military intervention in Syria now adds to the continuing and exhausting theme of “US tapering” currently prevalent in markets.
Interestingly enough, the often inverse correlation between spot gold and the dollar has not been in play as we have seen a near-term flight to safety equating to appreciation in both instruments for most of the week. Emerging market currencies have suffered as a result and we have seen our local rand retest prominent levels from 2008 which are above R10.50/$. The rand is currently in 3rd place when it comes to worst performing currencies this year behind the Indian Rupee and Indonesian Rupiah, with most of our currency depreciation having emerged since May (+-15%). Domestic factors such as increasingly large strike action within the industrial sector as well as looming strike action in the gold mining sector have added to the impact of a strengthening dollar on our rand. Ironically, no further depreciation of the rand was witnessed on Friday as a worse than expected trade balance was reported by The South African Revenue Service (SARS).
The trade deficit for July was reported at R14.2bn, around R5bn higher than consensus estimates and doubles the reading of R7.2bn in June.Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures out of South Africa were upbeat and indicated a quarterly growth of 3%, with the manufacturing sector of our economy providing the largest contribution to growth.
US GDP provided another consensus beat with quarterly growth coming in at 2.5% while weekly jobless claims were largely in line with expectation.