The South African rand hits new Covid fears, variations

South African rand.

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The South African rand fell sharply against the dollar on Friday after a new complex transformation was observed in the country.

The currency fell as low as $ 16.2391 against Asian trading hours on Friday and was last about 1.6% weaker at $ 16.2215 per dollar.

The losses came as investors rushed towards safe-haven currencies such as the Japanese yen, which strengthened about 0.6% against the dollar to $ 114.69. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the dollar against its peers, was at 96,712 – compared to levels below 96.5 seen earlier this week.

A currency analyst told CNBC’s “Street Signs Case” on Friday that the large move in the rand may be due in part to fewer trades in Asian times.

“This is fundamental news about the new variant [South] Africa, combined with Asia’s limited liquidity, is definitely driving some of the price development, ”said Adarsh ​​Sinha, Senior Vice President, Asian Interest Rate and Currency Strategy at Bank of America Securities.

World Health Organization officials said on Thursday they were watching a new variant with numerous mutations in the spike protein – the part of the virus that binds to cells in the body. The Health Board will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss what it might mean for vaccines and treatments.

According to the WHO, a variant called B.1.1.529 has been detected in small quantities in South Africa.

“We don’t know much about this yet. We know that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that having so many mutations can affect the behavior of the virus,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Director Covid-19: said in Q&A, which was broadcast live on the organization’s social media channels.

One hour after the announcement, the UK announced it would suspend flights from six African countries.

– Hannah Miao of CNBC participated in this report.


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