South African rand firmer in afternoon trade

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -The South African rand was stronger in afternoon trade on Friday, after a quiet week in which it mostly tracked the U.S. dollar in the absence of major local drivers.

At 1630 GMT, the rand traded at 18.6650 against the dollar, 0.2% firmer than its previous close.

The dollar was last down 0.2% against a basket of currencies.

The rand often mirrors dollar moves when the local economic data calendar is thin.

“Investors are still feeling their way through the start of the year and are undecided on a clear direction,” South African financial market research firm ETM Analytics said in a note.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Top-40 index ended the day down less than 0.1%. The benchmark 2030 government bond was slightly stronger, the yield down 3.5 basis points to 9.865%.

(Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian and Alexander WinningEditing by Mark Potter)