The rand struggled to maintain recent gains on Monday afternoon as escalating political turmoil in Ukraine led to emerging-market currencies losing favour with investors.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis was “a major shock to sentiment towards risky assets”.
Russian markets experienced the heaviest losses, with the ruble hitting a record low against the dollar and euro, prompting the Bank of Russia to raise interest rates on Monday.
At 3.56pm, the rand was at R10.7962 to the dollar from Friday’s close of R10.8184. The local unit touched its best level for the year of R10.65/$ during Friday’s session, despite a string of negative local economic data last week.
The shortfall on South Africa’s trade balance account, which records the difference between imports and exports, ballooned to R17.06bn in January from a surplus of R2.59bn in December, while prices at the factory gate accelerated to 7% year on year in January, showing that producers were starting to feel the pain from the weaker rand.
Against the euro, the rand was at R14.8780 from its previous close of R14.8974 and was at R18.0638 to the pound from R18.0966 on Friday.
The euro was at $1.3774 from $1.3774 at Friday’s close.
Reports have emerged that the number of Russian troops that invaded Crimea, a region of eastern Ukraine, topped 6000. Meanwhile, US and European officials have threatened economic and financial sanctions against Russia and targeted ones against Russian companies, Dow Jones Newswires reported.