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#RandReport: Rand firmer ahead of Fed, stocks lifted by retailer Truworths

The rand traded firmer on Monday, with predictions of improved current account data.

The JSE Top-40 index ended 0,83 percent up at 43,813 and the broader All-share index rose 0,9 percent to 49,366. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand traded firmer on Monday, with predictions of improved current account data offering respite ahead of a possible rate hike in the United States, while stocks edged up after two straight sessions of falls.

As of 1540 GMT the unit had firmed 0,27 percent to 13,5250 per dollar, shaking off concerns over when the US Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates, potentially triggering an exodus of investors from risky emerging assets.

Yields on long-dated bonds were mixed, with government debt due in 2026 shedding 1,5 basis points to 8,495 percent.

The JSE Top-40 index ended 0.83 percent up at 43,813 and the broader All-share index rose 0,9 percent to 49,366.

"Hopefully the US Fed will start raising rates this week, to clear the air and stop all the crazy speculation and guessing," analysts at Stanlib said.

Poor data from China over the weekend however is likely to cap gains.

The world's No.2 economy reported a slowdown in investment and output of key industrial commodities over the weekend, raising the possibility of third-quarter growth dipping below seven percent for the first time since the global financial crisis.

South African current account data due on Tuesday should be rand-positive, traders said, offering the unit some breathing space before the US Fed meeting starting on Wednesday.

On the local bourse, Truworths was among the top gainers after the retailer said it had started talks to buy a British shoe chain.

Truworths, which has yet to make a formal offer for privately owned Office, is willing to pay 300 million pounds, according Britain's Sunday Times.

In reaction, shares in the Cape Town-based apparel seller climbed 3,85 percent to 89,58 rand.

Buying Office, which sells men's, women's and sports footwear in a mid-level price range, would help Truworths diversify away from its home market, said Chris Gilmour, an investment analyst at Absa Wealth.

Overall, investors refrained from making large bets ahead of the Fed meeting.

"With the Fed meeting this week, volatility should continue for the balance of this week," said Vestact, a boutique asset management firm in Johannesburg.

The stock market volatility index, commonly known as the "fear index", has jumped more than 30 percent over the past four weeks on concerns of a China-led global economic slowdown and uncertainty over the timing of the US interest rates increase.