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Rand takes hit as US jobs surge sends dollar higher

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

A surge in hiring in the United States renewed worries about aggressive interest rate hikes, bolstering the dollar.

The rand slumped from R17.06/$ on Friday morning to R17.48 overnight.

Meanwhile, disappointing earnings reports from Apple, Amazon, and Google owner Alphabet raised worries that high interest rates and sky-high inflation are weighing on consumer demand.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which piled on more than three percent Thursday thanks to forecast-beating results from Facebook parent Meta, dropped two percent at the open of trading on Friday.

But the Nasdaq wiped away that loss in morning trading before dipping again.

Shares in Amazon, which slumped 5.6 percent at the start of trading, were down 4.4 percent in late morning trading. Alphabet shares recovered most of their losses and stood down one percent.

Apple, which opened slightly lower, rebounded and was up more than three percent.

Data showing that after a five-month slowdown in hiring, the world’s biggest economy added 517,000 jobs in January, may have dented hopes that the US Federal Reserve could slow interest rate hikes further or even reverse them later this year.

“The key takeaway from the report is that it has the market questioning its own conviction about the prospect of the Fed cutting rates before the end of the year, ” said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at

The dollar bounded higher after the data was released, and the yield on US government bonds climbed higher.

But the jobs figures and other recent data also helped relieve concerns about a recession.

In Europe, London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index on Friday soared to a record peak above 7,906 points, lifted by the weak pound and record annual profits at oil major Shell.

“A Friday feeling of optimism has surged through markets, pushing the FTSE 100 to a record high after US jobs growth powered ahead, and investors shrugged off recession worries,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.

Frankfurt stocks ended the day lower but Paris finished with a gain.

In Asia, shares in Indian conglomerate Adani fell further.

Beleaguered Indian tycoon Gautam Adani on Friday denied that his rise to become Asia’s richest man — a title he has lost in a phenomenal stock rout this week – was thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Combined market capitalisation in Adani’s listed units has collapsed by about $120 billion — or half their previous value — since US short-seller Hindenburg Research, which makes money by betting on shares falling, released an explosive report last week.

It accused Adani of accounting fraud and artificially boosting its share prices, calling it a “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme” and “the largest con in corporate history”.

Critics say Adani’s close relationship with Modi, who is also from Gujarat state, has helped him win business and avoid proper oversight.

Adani on Friday called the allegations “baseless”.

The JSE’s All-Share Index rose by half a percent, with AECI up 6% and Bidvest gaining more than 3%.

Elsewhere, crude prices stabilised but then added to Thursday’s losses on concerns about the economic outlook and demand on data showing US stockpiles rising more than expected last week.

“Oil’s in a bit of a limbo as the market awaits tangible signs of China’s oil demand recovery,” Vandana Hari, of Vanda Insights, said.

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