Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

THE rand was stable at weaker levels at midday on Tuesday as the sharp sell-off in the local currency since the beginning of the year subsided a little.

The market is taking a breather before the release of Chinese trade and growth data over the next few weeks. China is expected to release its trade data for December on Wednesday.

At 11.30am, the rand was trading at R16.7635 against the dollar from a previous close of R16.7751. It reached a worst level of R16.9549/$ in morning trade.

Against the euro the rand was R18.2140 from R18.2181 previously, and R24.3210 against the pound from R24.4026.

The euro was at $1.0865 from a previous close of $1.0859.

Analysts said some liquidity was returning to the market from oversold levels. The recent weakness was characterised by very low liquidity, mainly in Asian markets.

"At current levels the rand is four standard deviations away from its long-term mean of R13.82/$ — the sharpest extension in the past six years," Nedbank CIB analysts said.

Although significantly oversold, the rand was unlikely to recover by a large margin just yet, Nedbank said. "Technical levels to look out for are the 2016 weakest level of R17.92/$ and projected technical target levels of R19.49/$ and R20.46/$."

The rand had weakened 9.19% against the dollar so far this year. On a trade-weighted level it had lost 12.6%, the analysts said.

"Given much uncertainty regarding the local sociopolitical backdrop, global developments and sentiment towards emerging markets, along with geopolitics, the trade-weighted rand may ... extend to further record lows in the coming weeks," Nedbank said.