South African rand firmer in thin trade; stocks flat

(Reuters) -South Africa’s rand advanced against the U.S. dollar in thin trade on Wednesday, with analysts saying the currency was drifting on global market factors in the absence of domestic economic data releases.

Stocks on the Johannesburg bourse were little changed.

By 1515 GMT, the rand was at 18.2400 to the dollar, about 0.4% stronger than its previous close.

The rand has largely tracked dollar moves in recent sessions, when the U.S. currency has been under pressure on bets that the Federal Reserve will soon begin cutting interest rates.

“It is offshore developments that are driving the rand much more than local developments at the moment, and so long as the dollar is on the slide, the rand holds the potential to retest the 18.00 handle before the end of the year,” ETM Analytics said in a research note.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Top-40 index ended the day within touching distance of its previous close.

The yield on the government’s benchmark 2030 bond was 4 basis points lower at 9.69%, indicating a slightly higher price.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Shailesh Kuber)