Adds latest prices, analyst comments

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 12 (Reuters)South Africa’s rand firmed slightly on Monday, clinging to the previous week’s gains spurred by hopes for the conclusion a stimulus package in the United States.

At 1500 GMT the rand ZAR=D3 was 0.14% firmer at 16.4750 per dollar compared to an close of 16.4975 on Friday in New York.

The expectations of stimulus in the world’s largest economy have provided a welcome boost for the rand by weakening the dollar .DXY and boosting appetite for risk-sensitive currencies.

Traders, however, warned that the cheer was thinning. On Friday, President Donald Trump offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal.

A holiday in the United States kept volumes thin and traders cautious of any big bets.

Locally, anticipation ahead of Thursday’s address in parliament by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which he has promised to outline the government’s economic recovery plan, has also kept trading on the cautious side.

Treasury is set to publish its medium term budget (MTBPS) in two weeks time.

“The rand continues to average around R16.50/$ this quarter, in line with our forecasts, and will be subject to volatility, with risks around the MTBPS, Moody’s, S&P and Fitch country reviews and global financial market sentiment,” said Annabel Bishop of Investec.

Bonds firmed, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 paper ZAR2030= down 6 basis points to 9.435%.

In the equities market, the Johannesburg All Shares index .JALSH closed 0.67% firmer at 55,552 points while the Top-40 index .JTOPI climbed 0.74% to 51,158 points.

Leading the gainers was troubled retailer Steinhoff SNHJ.J, which continued to rise after it said on Friday discussions about a $1

TOKYO – The dollar inched up in early Monday trade as riskier currencies slipped after negotiation on a U.S. stimulus package ran into resistance and as the yuan dropped after China’s central bank took a measure seen as aimed at curbing its strength.

The euro slipped 0.15% to $1.1818 EUR= while the Australian dollar shed 0.25% to $0.7223 AUD=D4.

The yen was little changed at 105.65 to the dollar JPY=.

WHY EVERY ONE OF YOUR DOLLARS DURING CORONAVIRUS NEEDS A NAME: DAVE RAMSEY

The U.S. dollar index edged up to 93.104 =USD, bouncing back from Friday’s near-three-week low of 92.997. The index saw its biggest loss in six weeks on Friday on hopes that a deal for new U.S. stimulus would be reached.

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal.

But Trump’s offer drew criticism from several Senate Republicans, many of whom are uneasy about the nation’s growing debt and concerned a deal would cost Republicans support in the upcoming presidential election, denting the risk-on mood.

The dollar inched up in early Monday trade as riskier currencies slipped after negotiation on a U.S. stimulus package ran into resistance and as the yuan dropped after China’s central bank took a measure seen as aimed at curbing its strength. (iStock


Still, with Nov. 3 election only weeks away, investors bet that Democrat Joe Biden is more likely to win the U.S. presidency and offer a larger economic package.

“On the whole, the big picture has not changed that much,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale.

The offshore Chinese yuan dropped after the People’s Bank of

The number of people filing initial unemployment claims dipped slightly last week to 837,000, holding relatively steady for the fifth week in a row as the labor market’s recovery continues at a crawl.

The figure, released Thursday by the Labor Department, is a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Claims have stagnated at a historic level, though they remain well below a peak of nearly 7 million in March. The four-week moving average was 867,250 last week, while the pre-pandemic record sits just shy of 700,000.

Another 650,120 people applied for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was created by Congress to aid workers who would not otherwise qualify for jobless benefits, such as gig workers and self-employed people.

The number of people continually receiving jobless benefits, however, fell notably, decreasing by 980,000 to 11.8 million in the week ending Sept. 19 – a positive sign that furloughed workers are going back to work and that the unemployed are finding jobs.

The Labor Department is set to release its September jobs report Friday, which will include the unemployment rate. The rate sat at 8.4% in August, and experts expect it to fall only slightly.

A number of large companies have recently announced mass layoffs. United Airlines and American Airlines furloughed more than 35,000 workers in total on Thursday. The Walt Disney Co. announced earlier this week that it will lay off 28,000 employees.

“This marks 28 weeks since the COVID-caused downturn ignited an eruption of historic and, as we see once again, sustained job loss, even as some employers bring employees back to work. In recent days, there’s been word of combined thousands of job cuts beyond some of the usual suspects, in terms of sectors where job loss has been common,” Mark Hamrick, senior