September 28, 2012 / 4:23 PM / in 6 years

Rand weakens on wider trade deficit, bonds supported

* Rand under pressure from trade deficit

* Last-minute inflows support bond market

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 28 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar on Friday, weighed down by a wider-than-expected trade deficit figure and a subdued sentiment towards riskier assets, although it found some support from late-session bond buying.

South Africa’s trade deficit widened to 12.2 billion rand ($1.49 billion) in August after a 6.7 billion rand shortfall in July, putting pressure on the currency.

The rand was 0.22 percent weaker at 8.268 against the dollar at 1453 GMT, from last night’s close of 8.2520.

However, it reversed some losses from earlier in the session, boosted by bond inflows ahead of South Africa’s inclusion in Citi’s World Government Bond Index on Monday.

“The ongoing deterioration in the trade balance will add to the pressure on the current deficit, which has already widened to a deficit of 6.4 percent of GDP in Q2 2012,” said Kevin Lings, an economist at Stanlib.

“This all suggests that the rand exchange rate is increasing at risk of weakening.” Lings added.

The currency was also under pressure before the trade data as Moody’s cut its rating on South African debt to Baa1 from A3 on Thursday, citing worries about the government’s institutional strength, investment climate and political stability.

“It seems there have been some last minute bond inflows, which have reversed much of the earlier yield gains,” said Anisha Arora, at reasearch house 4Cast.

“This has consequently benefited the rand at this late stage on Friday afternoon,” she said.

Government bonds were slightly weaker, with both yields the three year bond and longer dated paper 14-year paper up one basis to 5.39 percent and 7.45 percent respectively. (Reporting by Vuyani Ndaba)

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