by Udo Rypstra

Rand falls to a three-year low as strikes continue

Investors nervous about the outlook for Africa's biggest economy

Concern over biggest economy in Africa
Rand falls

South Africa's rand fell more than 2.3% against the dollar to a three-and-a-half year low in volatile trade yesterday as strikes that have hit output in the mining sector continued to hurt investor sentiment.

Investors have been nervous about the outlook for Africa's biggest economy, keeping local assets under pressure as strikes that began in the platinum mines in August spread to gold and iron ore. A truckers' strike is also in its third week.

Reuters reports that Friday's firing of 12 000 wildcat strikers by the world's biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, wreaked havoc, pushing the rand down 3.2% in its biggest daily loss since early December.

It says a renewed attack pushed the currency to 8.9950 on Monday, its weakest since April 2009, before it recovered slightly to 8.9605 by 10:38 GMT - still down 1.9% from Friday's close.

The strikes are building on concerns about domestic politics ahead of an African National Congress (ANC) leadership election in December, and a yawning current account deficit of 6.4% for the second quarter.

Monday's moves were somewhat exaggerated as the Columbus Day holiday kept US market players away, said Mohammed Nalla, an analyst at Nedbank Capital.

The strike stint continues as Toyota's Durban plant is hit by a strike.

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