The rand lost some ground in late trade on Wednesday - finding itself back above the R8 per dollar level once again - as it tracked a falling euro.

The euro later recovered, but a local currency trader said the rand had also been knocked by importer interest in the dollar.

At 16:00 local time, the rand was trading at R8.0714 to the dollar from a previous close of R7.9624 and after trading earlier at an intraday best level of R7.8716. It was trading at R10.7533 to the euro from R10.6247 before, and at R12.3556 against sterling from R12.3136 previously.

The euro was at US$1.3325 from US$1.3338 before.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that the European Central Bank reactivated two of its tried and trusted anti-crisis measures Thursday in an effort to stave off an impending liquidity crisis among the euro zone's banks.

President Jean-Claude Trichet, chairing his final press conference at the end of eight years at the helm of the ECB, said the bank would restart its buying of covered bank bonds in November, and would hold two separate tenders of year-long refinancing to euro-zone banks.

The ECB had resorted to both of these measures first in 2009, at the depths of the financial market troubles that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Trichet said the bank will buy up to ?40 billion in covered bonds issued by banks, starting in November. The bank will make its purchases in both the primary and secondary markets, and expects to have to completed the program by October 2012.

The ECB's decision came only an hour after the Bank of England decided to ease its monetary policy, committing to buy £75 billion of UK gilts in an effort to depress long-term interest rates.

In addition, the ECB will offer a 12-month tender of liquidity in October and a tender with an approximate maturity of around 13 months in December. Both will be of an unlimited size. The rate of both tenders will be fixed at the average rate of the bank's weekly Main Refinancing Operations over the lifetime of the tender.

Furthermore, Trichet said the bank will continue to offer unlimited liquidity at its one-week, one-month and three-month operations at least until July next year.

The measures "will continue to ensure that euro-area banks are not constrained on the liquidity side," Trichet said.

The loss of access to funding markets, a problem that has gained in intensity over the summer, has threatened the existence of one of Europe's largest banks in recent days, bringing French-Belgian lender Dexia SA to the verge of collapse.

I-NET BRIDGE