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S.Africa's Rand Recovers after Torrid Week

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 8 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar on Friday, recovering ground after a torrid week in which the country recorded a peak in daily COVID-19 infections and doubts over its vaccine supplies came to the fore.

At 1623 GMT, the rand was trading at 15.3275 against the U.S. currency, up 0.8% on its previous close.

The rand was partially helped by the dollar softening after a weak U.S. jobs report, though news that South Africa would get an initial batch of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India also comforted investors.

However, the rand was still on track for losses of more than 4% against the greenback this week.

The government has come in for heavy criticism in recent days from scientists, trade unions and health workers over its vaccine strategy. At a time when wealthier nations are already rolling out immunisations, South Africa has yet to receive its first doses and only recently made public its inoculation plans.

A sluggish vaccination programme would further dent prospects for economic recovery in the continent’s most industrialised nation.

Johannesburg-listed stocks advanced for the fifth consecutive day on Friday, reaching record highs, with the All-share index closing up 0.76% at 63,519 points and the blue-chip top-40 index 0.72% higher at 58,423 points.

Petrochemicals firm Sasol was among the gainers, rising 4.56% after oil prices surged.

Curbing further gains, gold shares fell 3.23% after the bullion price weakened. Government bonds were little changed, with the yield on the 2030 bond at 8.795%.

Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Source: Reuters

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