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#RandReport: Miners lead South African stock gains, rand firms

Shares in BHP Billiton advanced 3.9% to R217.02, while Anglo American climbed 3.2% to R210.14.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South African stocks rose on Wednesday as mining firms got a lift from upbeat Chinese manufacturing data, while the rand firmed slightly on bets of a weaker dollar in the long term.

The benchmark Top-40 share index rose 1.2% to 44,677 points while the All-Share index gained 1.1% to 51,682 points, with diversified mining firms stronger as Chinese data helped copper to a one-week high.

Shares in BHP Billiton advanced 3.9% to R217.02, while Anglo American climbed 3.2% to R210.14.

Factory output in China expanded faster than expected in February as domestic and export demand picked up, adding to signs that the global economy is gaining momentum even as fears grow of a surge in trade protectionism.

Banks also gained, with the JSE's banking index up 1.8% at 7,508 points.

Nedbank, which reported a 4.8% rise in its full-year profit on Tuesday, and Investec were the best performers among the lenders, both rising 2.5% to R251 and R94.49 respectively.

"Investors probably looked at Nedbank's results and thought, well, things aren't that bad," Cratos Capital trader Greg Davies said.

In the currency market, the rand had inched 0.27% firmer to 13.0950 per dollar by 1500 GMT, compared to an overnight close of 13.1300 per dollar in New York.

The greenback firmed on reignited bets of a March rate hike by the US Federal Reserve following after comments by policymakers suggested the bank wanted to avoid the perception it had waited too long to hike rates.

Locally, a dearth of data releases kept attention focus on fundamentals, with analysts expecting the rand to resume a recent rally on an improved domestic economic outlook.

"There is nothing the Reserve Bank will do to effect the currency. They won't be buying up reserves of anything like that," said senior economist at Old Mutual Johann Els, adding that he expected a rate cut by the central bank later
in 2017.

Bonds were weaker, with the yield on benchmark paper due in 2026 adding 1 basis point to 8.81%.

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