January 10, 2019 / 7:52 AM / in 6 days

South Africa's rand flat in early trade

South African bank notes featuring an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela are displayed at an office in Johannesburg, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand held steady in early trade on Thursday, with the dollar subdued and markets hopeful that an all-out U.S.-China trade war could be averted.

At 0731 GMT, the rand traded at 13.8775 versus the U.S. currency, 0.1 percent weaker compared to its previous close.

The rand was helped by optimism following trade talks between the United States and China, while the dollar remained under pressure after Federal Reserve policymakers signalled they were becoming more cautious about future interest rate hikes.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of major peers, was 0.08 percent weaker.

South Africa was due to publish November manufacturing data and see the release of a December business confidence index later on Thursday, two factors that could also steer trade in the rand.

The benchmark 2026 government bond was slightly stronger, while stocks opened on the defensive with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s top-40 index down 0.6 percent.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Alexander Winning

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