October 12, 2017 / 7:18 AM / 7 days ago

South Africa's rand, bonds firmer as dovish Fed opens room for rally

South African bank notes featuring images of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) are displayed next to the American dollar notes in this photo illustration in Johannesburg August 13 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was firmer early on Thursday, extending a rally to its best level in nearly two weeks against the dollar with sentiment over economic growth soothed by recent data helping to boost demand for the currency.

At 0650 GMT the rand had firmed 0.5 percent to 13.4600 per dollar compared to an overnight close of 13.5275, with less hawkish than expected minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting keeping bids for emerging currencies strong.

The World Bank kept its estimate of 0.6 percent growth in 2017 in its sub-Saharan report on Wednesday, while mining production data later in the session is expected to show the sector remains in growth territory.

Stocks were set to open slightly lower at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index down 0.16 percent.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond was down 4.5 basis points to 8.66 percent.

“Fed minutes were perceived as dovish as a strong degree of caution remains on the timing of the next hike. This should set a favourable tone for local bonds, with rates expected to grind lower,” said Rand Merchant Bank’s Michelle Wohlberg.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana

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