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Rand touches 1-week high vs dollar on US nonfarms jitters

At 1515 GMT the local unit had firmed 0,46 percent to 11,9400, having earlier gained over half a percent.

FILE: The index measuring the dollar against a basket of major currencies showed the unit 0,65 percent softer on the day. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed to a one-week high to the dollar on Thursday before retreating slightly, as the greenback softened ahead of widely watched US employment data due on Friday.

At 1515 GMT the local unit had firmed 0,46 percent to 11,9400, having earlier gained over half a percent to a one-week high against a broadly weaker dollar.

"The dollar is softer across the board, which must be due to some profit taking," said Lee Naisbitt, a trader at Rand Merchant Bank.

"You're going to find some position lightening ahead of payrolls and the holidays," Naisbitt added, referring to US nonfarm payrolls data and public holidays on Friday and Monday.

The index measuring the dollar against a basket of major currencies showed the unit 0,65 percent softer on the day, despite mostly positive data from the US leading up to the Friday employment figures.

"Jobless claims were stronger than expected. Factory orders were still soft, but the big one is tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls data," said market analyst Ricardo Da Camara of ETM Ananlytics.

"If we get a strong print we might find ourselves in same situation as in the beginning of March, when we had that huge dollar rally on the back of a strong payrolls print," said Da Camara.

The rand tumbled to a 13-year low in early March while the dollar soared after solid US job numbers fuelled bets the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates by June.

Local bonds were firmer, with the benchmark government issue due in 2026 shedding one basis point to 7,715 percent.

South African markets will be closed on Friday and Monday for public holidays.

The HSBC's March Purchasing Managers' Index is due on Tuesday.