South African rand edged lower early on Wednesday as investors dumped risky assets for safer investments after a key advocate for free trade in the White House resigned, fanning fears U.S. President Donald Trump would go ahead with tariffs and risk a trade war.
At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 11.7950 per dollar, 0.11 percent weaker than its overnight close of 11.7825. The currency earlier hit a session low of 11.8575.
Dealers feared the departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Wall Street banker, would embolden protectionist forces in the U.S. administration as Trump tries to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium.
“Currency markets don’t seem to like” the possibility of a global trade war, Nedbank analysts wrote in a note.
Stocks were set to open lower at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index down 0.81 percent.
In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down one basis points to 8.1 percent.
Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri (Reuters)