THE rand was slightly weaker against the dollar yesterday but showed signs of steadying after a volatile week in which it hit a new five-year low. The rand was at 11.2600 to the dollar, down 0.5 percent from Thursday's New York close, though it firmed slightly after data showed South Africa recorded a wider R2.78 billion trade surplus in December from R770 million the previous month. "It seems to be settling in ranges for now but still very much emerging market headline driven," said Rand Merchant Bank FX trader Jim Bryson . In a volatile week which saw investors shun emerging market assets, the U.S. Federal Reserve reduce its monthly bond purchases by a further $10 billion and the South African Reserve Bank announce a surprise interest rate cut, the rand swung between a high of 10.9050 and a five-year low of 11.3900. Ongoing strikes on the platinum mines have also kept the rand under pressure, with Amcu rejecting a 9 percent wage offer. Despite the central bank increasing its repo rate by 50 basis points to 5.50 percent, the rand continued to weaken as the market viewed the move as inadequate. - Reuters Weekend Argus
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