Rand, emerging market currencies on the backfoot amid US-China trade tensions

The rand weakened in early trade on Tuesday as uncertainty around US-China trade talks dampened demand for emerging markets currencies.

By 12:20 the local currency had strengthened somewhat to trade at R14.41/$ after opening at R14.38 to the greenback. 

Andre Botha, a senior dealer at TreasuryONE, said in a market update there is still a great deal of doubt about what the outcome of trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies will be. 

"This negative sentiment was echoed in equity markets with most of the major indices ending the session in the red," he said.

With markets trying to offload risks, the rand could head to the R14.50/$ level, he warned.

Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy & market research at FXTM, said emerging market currencies were in for a rough ride. 

"[...] recent tariff escalations from both sides suggest that emerging market currencies will continue to find themselves exposed to external uncertainties into the second half of 2019 at least," he said. 

Other factors that may impact the rand this week include the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve Bank, the swearing in of SA's new Parliament and the possible inauguration of SA's new Cabinet. 

The SA Reserve Bank's monetary policy committee, meanwhile, is expedited to keep the repo rate on hold on Thursday.