January 11, 2019 / 3:57 PM / in 4 days

South African rand little changed, stocks follow EM peers higher

Illustration photo shows a two-rand coin above a South African flag April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The South African rand barely moved in afternoon deals on Friday, giving up earlier gains stemming from dovish comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief.

In the absence of major domestic drivers and with local market activity thin this week, the rand has taken its cue from global drivers. At 1517 GMT, it was 0.05 percent weaker against the dollar at 13.8650.

Analysts at Nedbank CIB said technical factors pointed to the rand staying strong, with potential target levels of 13.53 and 13.38 against the dollar on the back of healthy appetite for emerging markets (EM).

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed again on Thursday the U.S. central bank could be patient in approving further interest rate increases, cementing market expectations the pace of monetary tightening will slow. [nL1N1ZA2CM]

The rand and other EM currencies were battered in 2018 by four Fed rate hikes which boosted the dollar and dented appetite for riskier assets. The dollar was down 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies on Friday after Powell’s latest cautious remarks.

On the bourse, stocks gained, tracking an upbeat tone in other emerging markets as hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal lifted sentiment.

The blue-chip Top-40 index was up 0.69 percent at 47,491 and the broader All-share index rose 0.76 percent to 53,676.

In fixed income, the benchmark 2026 government bond also firmed, as the yield fell 0.5 basis points.

Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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