March 8, 2018 / 3:51 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa's rand slips as trade war fears hit commodity exporters

* Rand dips as commodities prices slump (Adds latest prcies,)

JOHANNESBURG, March 8 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened on Thursday for a third straight session amid worries that a potential global trade war could curb economic growth and metals demand, overshadowing signs locally of an economic turnaround.

At 1500 GMT the rand was 0.68 percent weaker at 11.9150 per dollar compared to its close of 11.8350 overnight in New York, and edging closer to the 12.00 technical mark that could open the path for further losses.

Spot prices precious and industrial metals, such as gold, platinum and iron ore that form a large chunk of South Africa’s export revenue were all down on the day as investors’ worries over U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel tariff plan persisted.

Gold was down 0.43 percent, platinum 0.66 percent lower and copper more than 1 percent weaker.

Should the rand be able to withstand offshore pressures and close the week below 12.00, positive sentiment driven by recent signs of an economic revival could see it rally back around the 11.65 resistance level.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down 2.5 basis points at 8.095 percent.

Stocks were mixed, with telecoms group MTN leaping on a new dividend policy while some mining stocks wobbled in the face of the commodity downturn and disappointing results.

MTN shares jumped over 10 percent as it cut its 2018 dividend to trim debt but outlined increases in the next three to five years, lifting sentiment in the firm which some investors had expected to scrap this year’s payout.

Shares in Exxaro Resources fell 4.5 percent after it reported a sharp drop in full-year earnings because of an impairment even as operating profits rose. The benchmark Top-40 index nudged up 0.1 percent to 52,057 while the wider All-share index edged down 0.06 percent to 58,926. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Ed Stoddard Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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