The market closely scrutinizes Yellen’s speech as to clues on a probable rate hike, with the forward market already pricing in a 80% possibility that a rate hike will occur this month
The South African bond market was firmer in late afternoon trade on Friday, ahead of US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s last speech before the Fed decides on interest rates on March 15.
Other Fed officials were also due to give speeches on the day. Yellen’s speech was expected after the local market’s close.
The market will closely scrutinise Yellen’s speech as to clues on a probable rate hike. The forward market is already pricing in a 80% possibility that a rate hike will occur this month.
“The main theme doing the rounds this week was the increasing hawkishness of Fed members, which clearly pointed to a rate hike in March,” said TreasuryOne currency dealer Andre Botha.
If the expected hawkishness continued the rand was bound to weaken, he said.
The local bond market was also following the firmer rand, which was at R13.0718 in the late afternoon from a previous R13.1558. This was on a weaker dollar, which traded at $1.0569 against the euro from $1.0506.
The bond market was also eyeing the release of US nonfarm payroll data next Friday with a strong number set to further underpin the likelihood of a rate hike.
It was expected that nonfarm payrolls would show an increase of 186,000 jobs, with a higher number possible as jobless claims this week exceeded predictions, indicating a tighter labour market which could fuel inflation.
Earlier this week, several high-ranking US Federal Reserve officials hinted that a rate increase was on the cards for March, prompting markets to price in the likely outcome.
At 3.40pm, the benchmark R186 was bid at 8.71% from 8.745% and the R207 was bid at 7.745% from 7.760%.
The yield on the US 10-year bond hit 2.50% in intraday trade, the highest since February 14.
The yield was at 2.487% from 2.477% in late afternoon trade.