March 20, 2017 / 6:54 AM / in 8 months

South Africa's rand at 19-month peak vs dollar, stocks set to open higher

JOHANNESBURG, March 20 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand extended gains against the dollar early on Monday as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s less hawkish-than-expected comments continued to drag the greenback lower.

* At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 12.6825 per dollar, 0.26 percent firmer from its New York close on Friday.

* The rand is trading at its strongest level against the dollar since August 2015.

* Locally, the focus this week is on fourth-quarter current account data and Feb consumer inflation due to be out on Wednesday.

* Stocks were set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index up 0.36 percent.

* In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 dipped 1.5 basis points to 8.495 percent. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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