April 18, 2019 / 5:08 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand weaker as risk demand fades before Easter, stocks up

* Rand slide alongside EM peers

* Stocks boosted by rising commodity prices (Adds stocks, updates levels, adds trader comment)

JOHANNESBURG, April 18 (Reuters) - South Africa’s currency weakened on Thursday, losing ground against a stronger dollar as investors closed positions and took profits before the Easter holiday - while stocks took heart from rising gold prices.

The currency has eked out gains in the previous session after retail sales came in weak but better than forecasts. But by 1500 GMT, it was back beyond the 14.00 mark against the dollar - 0.5 percent softer at 14.07.

“At the moment we’ve had quite a strong week and now people are just squaring in their books for their weekend,” said Sanlam Private Wealth Portfolio Manager Garth Curry.

Government bonds were flat with the yield on the benchmark 2026 bond at 8.465 percent.

Stocks rose as gold prices jumped aided by a global turn to safe-haven assets on renewed concerns about global growth.

Despite a weak early session, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Top-40 Index closed 0.59 percent higher to 52,792, while the broader All-Share Index climbed 0.53 percent to 59,110.

General merchandisers continued to reap the benefits of the retail data, rising 2.31 percent.

Top performers included Clicks which rose 5.84 percent to 195.46 after it said on Wednesday half-year earnings wee up 13.2 percent on strong health and beauty product sales.

Commodities were among the top blue-chip performers, with Goldfields up 2.48 percent to 549 rand while rival AngloGold Ashanti rose 1.85 percent to 183.69.

The gold miners index was up 1.57 percent as investors turned to safe-haven assets following weak manufacturing surveys from Asia and Europe.

————————————————————————————- (Reporting by Onke Ngcuka and Naledi Mashishi; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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