South Africa’s rand flat ahead of U.S. jobs data

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand weakened slightly early on Friday, pausing a rally that has seen the unit trade below the crucial 16 rand per dollar mark for three straight sessions as global risk appetite has improved.

Stocks were set to open flat at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index slipping 0.1 percent.

By 0645 the rand was flat at 15.8995 per dollar, easing off its firmest level in one month after statements from the United States Federal Reserve this week suggested interest rates there would remain lower for longer.

Government bonds were also firmer, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 2 basis points to 9.115 percent.

Traders said currency moves would be limited ahead of the U.S. non-farm payrolls data due later in the session.

“Markets are still deciding on a consensus view for how many U.S. rate hikes we will see this year, and a weak jobs report could put the impetus back in the hands of doves,” said research house NKC African Economics in a note.

Recently weak U.S. economic data, and dovish comments from New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley, have led investors to pare bets on a steady pace of Fed rate increases.


(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Ed Stoddard)

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