JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's rand weakened against the dollar on Thursday, pulling back from the year's high as investors reduced expectations for an interest rate hike next week and emerging markets lost some of their recent momentum.
Fears of violent labour unrest in the platinum mines is also keeping investors cautious.
Retails sales data on Wednesday underperformed market forecasts by 1 percent, dampening expectations that the South African Reserve Bank may hike interest rates at a policy meeting next week.
At 0635 GMT, the rand was down at 10.3120 to the dollar, off a New York close of 10.2950.
Investors are also taking a cautious tack as the 16-week strike in the platinum belt continues.
Miners trying to return to work were told by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to stay clear of the mines, to avoid intimidation by rival AMCU union. [ID:nL6N0O118D]
The rand has lost some momentum since it hit a 2014 high on Tuesday, but should it manage a sustainable break through the 10.3000 resistance level, the Tuesday high of 10.2725 will be its first resistance barrier.
Dealers said they would be watching U.S. inflation data and Eurozone economic growth numbers, which will give a clue about rates in both the world's biggest economy and Europe, a key trading partner for South Africa.
Analysts expect that as long as inflationary pressures are contained in the United States, investors should still be keen to take up high-yielding emerging market assets such as the rand.
Yields on government bonds were down just one basis points at 8.025 percent on the benchmark 2026 issue and at 6.50 percent on the 2015 issue.