South African rand slightly firms as US dollar dips

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand traded slightly higher on Wednesday following several days of weakness as the softening of the U.S. dollar supported risk sentiment.

At 1619 GMT, the rand traded at 19.2800 against the dollar, about 0.3% stronger than its previous close.

The dollar index , which tracks the greenback against six peers, was last down around 0.4%.

The rand has been on a downward trajectory this week, tumbling against a buoyant dollar on both Monday and Tuesday to sit around 2% weaker since the start of the month.

The S&P Global South Africa PMI survey showed on Wednesday that activity in the private sector held steady in September as firms scaled back output somewhat due to rolling power cuts and cost pressures but took on more staff.

Local retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay warned they were limiting the amount of eggs that shoppers can buy as the country’s worst outbreak of avian flu hit supplies.

The CEO of Sibanye Stillwater, South Africa’s biggest mining sector employer, said the firm may be forced to close some loss-making shafts, adding job cuts in platinum mining had become inevitable as prices of precious metals fall.

On the Johannesburg stock market, the Top-40 and the broader all-share indices ended almost 0.3% lower.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was weaker in afternoon deals, with the yield up 6.5 basis points to 11.085%.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Anait Miridzhanian;Editing by Alexander Winning and Chris Reese)