Trading Toolkit for South African Forex Fundis


The performance of the USD/ZAR is characterised by extreme volatility. Over the past ten years (2014 – 2024), the currency pair has fluctuated between 10.218 and approximately 20 to $1. While certainly dramatic, the depreciation of the South African Rand presents many profitable trading opportunities to South African forex fundis.

Between steady and persistent depreciation, there are many short-term opportunities to generate outsized returns. Like other exotic pairs, this currency pair is volatile, marked by wild price swings known as ‘whipsaw movement’ in the financial markets.

For the year-to-date (January 2024), analysts recommend a sell rating on the pair, given its poor performance relative to the US dollar and other major currencies. A thorough understanding of the intricacies of the ZAR is necessary before trading commences. Naturally, a multitude of factors, quantitative and qualitative, impact the South African Rand.

Foremost among them is the perception/conviction of global investors of the South African economy. The South African Rand benefits when global investors and traders indicate an increased appetite for risk in emerging market economies. This is marked by inflows of FDI.

This is a ‘risk-on approach’ to emerging market economies. But monetary tightening brought on by rising interest rates or increased taxes tends to reduce global offshore investments.

Other factors include the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to implement changes to monetary policies. When the US interest rate is stable or declining, this tends to bode well for the ZAR. Conversely, rising interest rates tend to result in selloffs of forex in favour of the USD. These generalisations form the bedrock of sound Forex trading strategy, although there are certainly many factors impacting buy and sell decisions.

Contrarian trading options – Forex CFDs

Source: Trading Economics USDZAR 2024

A growing number of South African forex traders – retail and institutional – are taking to online trading platforms. This presents a cost-effective, convenient alternative to the traditional brokerages in ivory towers in Sandton, Gauteng, or the Cape Town CBD district. Web trading platforms are the preferred options for SA traders, as evidenced by the latest statistics.

Nowadays, currency pairs are traded in a variety of ways. Traditional Forex trading, where one currency is purchased and the other is sold simultaneously, remains popular, but CFD Forex trading is fast outpacing alternative options.

SA traders dabbling in Forex CFDs must understand this contrarian investment option’s inherent risks and opportunities. For starters, traders never purchase the underlying financial instrument. The CFD is a contract that measures the difference in prices of the underlying financial instruments, now and at expiry time.

For example, will the USD strengthen relative to the ZAR in the USD/ZAR pair? Or will it weaken? If the forecast is accurate, the CFD can yield favourable returns. Since it’s a leveraged product, small trade amounts convert into substantial positions. Losses can result, and these volatile financial instruments are certainly not suited to all types of traders. Caution is advised. 

Ways to enhance the success of forex CFD trading

Economic calendars are central to all trading activity in the forex market. National trade budgets feature prominently. Other economic indicators include private sector credit figures and production inflation figures. These paint a picture of the overall health of the South African economy for forex traders to tap into.

NOTE: Mixed data can throw traders off course, with declining business confidence in Q4 2023 harming the ZAR, while reports suggesting rising composite leading business cycles tend to positively affect the ZAR. Combined, this +/- market news tends to flatten sentiment, often to the downside.

Concluding remarks

In the dynamic Forex market, SA traders are uniquely positioned at the intersection of global economic currents and local realities. Success in this market hinges on a deep understanding of domestic and international elements, including emerging South African economic innovations, key indicators like GDP growth, employment figures, and government policies. These factors intricately influence the Rand’s value in Forex CFD trading.

Astute South African traders regard technical analysis tools as essential. Mastery of chart patterns, trend lines, and critical indicators such as moving averages and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is crucial for crafting effective trading strategies. Yet, the skilful integration of these tools with a solid understanding of economic fundamentals distinguishes successful Forex CFD traders.

As the Forex market evolves, your ability to swiftly adapt strategies to its pulsating rhythms is imperative. This agility is particularly important in the lively and unpredictable South African market. Experienced traders understand this reality: In the complex whirl of market trends, being attuned to the global and local economic realities is key.

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