South African rand falls as U.S. data bolsters dollar

South Africa’s rand slipped to a three-week low in early trade on Wednesday as robust U.S. economic data supported the dollar.

At 0640 GMT, the rand traded at 14.3725 per dollar, 0.82 percent weaker than its New York close on Tuesday.

The currency was trading at its weakest levels since April 1.

The market’s appetite for dollars was boosted after data on Tuesday showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes jumped to a near 1-1/2-year high in March, easing concerns of a sharp slowdown in the world’s largest economy.

“Against a backdrop of a firmer USD, the local unit has traded weaker as offshore demand for USD has outweighed supply,” Nedbank analysts wrote in a note.

“Various factors – including a steadily increasing crude oil price, apparent concerns regarding the financial state of the electricity utility and the impending local elections – are weighing on the local unit,” they added.

South Africa holds parliamentary and provincial elections that will determine the country’s next president on May 8.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 0.5 basis points to 8.555 percent.