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Rand falls after South Africa confirms first coronavirus case

South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar on Thursday after the government confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus. 

At 1500 GMT, the rand was 1.6% weaker at 15.5300 per dollar. 

“The rand has come under pressure as the first case of the COVID-19 coronavirus has been confirmed in South Africa,” said Bianca Botes, Treasury Partner at Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

“The markets are on edge, with many questioning the ability of government to deal with a breakout in South Africa efficiently.” 

The confirmed case was a man who had visited Italy and the health minister warned the arrival of coronavirus would test the country’s health system. 

On the stock market, the Top-40 index was up 0.12% to 47,618 while the broader all-share was largely flat at 52,936. 

Petrochemicals group Sasol, however, was the biggest decliner on the blue-chip index, falling nearly 9% as oil prices continued to drop with no end in sight to the spread of coronavirus globally. 

In fixed income, the yield on the 10-year 2030 government issue was down 1.5 basis points at 8.86%. 

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