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South African rand firms after central bank rate surprise

Kitco News

JOHANNESBURG, March 30 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand strengthened against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank raised its main interest rate by a higher than forecast 50 basis points to 7.75%.

At 1344 GMT, the rand traded at 17.8000 against the dollar, 1.78% stronger than its previous close.

A majority of economists polled by Reuters had expected the South African Reserve Bank to announce a 25 basis point increase.

"Recent polls showed the vast majority of economists were predicting a 25 bps increase, with an outside expectation of no change," said Rand Swiss Portfolio Manager Gary Booysen.

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the blue-chip Top 40 index (.JTOPI) was last down 0.03% higher, while the broader all-share index (.JALSH) fell 0.04%.

Statistics South Africa data showed last week that February inflation rose to 7.0% year on year from 6.9% in January, remaining above the bank's target of between 3% and 6%.

The government's benchmark 2030 bond was stronger, with the yield down 5 basis points to 9.865%.

Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian and Tannur Anders; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Macharia Chege
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