Britain exits EU, rand’s value dives

The rand remained the worst performing emerging market currency on Monday 27 June, but an analyst said there is a silver lining for the local unit.

It continued to show its volatile nature on Monday, after losses against the dollar swung between 2% and 8,5% on Friday.

By 08:30, the rand was 4.25% lower against the dollar at R15.19 and 4% higher against the pound at R20.35.

The harsh swings are in reaction to the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, which caused extreme volatility in most emerging market currencies, but especially the rand.

“It is difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel and that is reflected in the pound this morning, as it trades down below 1.34, over 2% lower,” says Adam Phillips of Umkhulu Consulting.

“This has dragged the euro down by 0,83% and the rand is leading the emerging market currencies lower.

“Gold continues to shine with the yen and the former might help us in South Africa a little, although other commodities are staying on the fence.”

Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns says not all is negative in a note on Monday.

“The silver lining for the rand remains that global monetary conditions will be easier after the Brexit vote,” he says.

“Fed futures, amazingly, have completely priced out further hikes this year and are even toying with the idea that the Fed could cut rates.

“Further ECB (European Central Bank) and BoJ (Bank of Japan) easing is all but assured. Switzerland has already reacted with currency intervention on Friday.”

The victory for Brexit tore through world markets on Friday, pummelling the pound and high-yielding assets as more than $2.5trn was wiped from global equity values. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned without spelling out when the UK intends to leave the EU, and eight members of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team quit amid calls for his ouster.

US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Brussels and then London on Monday as Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland – whose people voted to stay in the EU – teases the possibility of a second referendum on independence from the UK.

The next days and weeks will likely be key for central banks as they seek to limit volatility in financial markets. The European Central Bank is hosting a three-day meeting in Sintra, Portugal that will include speeches from its president, Mario Draghi, and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host European Council president Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday to talk about the UK’s plan to exit the bloc.
Cairns says the result of uncertainty is volatility. “Expect jittery and ragged trade in global markets through this week, implying the risks of severe rand weakness are not over yet.

“The UK may be tearing itself apart,” he says. “Opponents of Brexit have called for another referendum, a re-Brexit, and are arguing for Parliament to vote to stay in the EU.

“Scotland wants another independence referendum. And both the Labour and Conservative Parties are in turmoil. Reflecting the uncertainty… some market participants are calling for further 5% to 10% losses (in the pound to dollar losses).

“The bigger threat is that Europe might also be torn apart,” he says. “As expected, independence parties from across the union have called for their own countries to hold referendums.

“Do we get Departugal, Italeave, Czechout, Oustria, Finish, Slovlong, Latervia, Buygium and no more Germania? These are not minor concerns.”

By Matthew le Cordeur and Bloomberg for Fin24

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