S.Africa rand firms, bonds gain

Thu Mar 8, 2012 7:00am GMT

* Rand firms in line with other commodity currencies

* Government bonds nudge higher

JOHANNESBURG, March 8 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand firmed on Thursday along with other commodity currencies as risk appetite was lifted by an uptick in U.S. private sector jobs data and the prospect of more banks participating in a Greek bond swap.

The rand was trading at 7.5817 to the dollar at 0623 GMT, 0.18 percent firmer than Tuesday's New York close of 7.596.

Reuters releases its South Africa Econometer survey for February at 0930 GMT and January manufacturing statistics are due at 1100 GMT. Economists expect factory output to have quickened to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent in December.

"It's all about the euro land," said Ion de Vleeschauwer at Bidvest. "The euro is stronger, gold is higher and commodities are higher, so it's risk-on again today."

Currency traders will also be watching interest rate decisions from the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada later in the day, although no change to rates is expected.

"We do not expect any nasty surprises in terms of the ECB and the BOE. It's all going to be left unchanged. If they decide to cut, it could be negative for euro obviously and put the rand back under pressure, but I doubt they'll do that," De Vleeschauwer added.

Yields on both the two main benchmark government bonds were down one basis point, with the 2015 yield at 6.95 percent and that on the 2026 note at 8.3 percent.

On the bourse, stocks looked set for a lower start, with the March futures contract of the JSE's blue-chip Top-40 index down 0.19 percent before the 0700 GMT start of trade. (Reporting by Vuyani Ndaba; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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