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#RandReport: Rand eyes possible US rate hikes stocks flat

The rand scaled a session high of 13,5630 to the greenback and was at 13,5850.

FILE: Although the rand strengthened slightly on Tuesday, fears of a rates increase created some downside risk for the emerging market currency. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed on Tuesday but would likely struggle to maintain gains as investors bet on a US interest rate increase before year-end, while stocks were flat.

Monetary policy tightening in the US, the world's biggest economy, will dent appetite for emerging market assets which offer higher yields but carry more risk for investors.

Although the rand strengthened slightly on Tuesday, fears of a rates increase created some downside risk for the emerging market currency.

The rand scaled a session high of 13,5630 to the greenback and was at 13,5850 by 1502 GMT, up 0,12 percent from its previous close.

The closure of Chinese markets until Wednesday had a calming effect on commodity currencies, boosting the rand and opening up a possible test of the 13,5000 mark and 13,3000 thereafter, Investec analyst Annabel Bishop said.

"However, rising expectations of a December lift-off (in US rates) would support a breach of the 14,0000 mark again," Bishop added.

In fixed income, government bonds edged up across the curve, and yields dipped, with the 2026 benchmark easing off two basis points to 8,215 percent.

Stocks were flat despite a surge in gold and platinum shares which were pushed up by news that Sibanye Gold will buy Aquarius Platinum, making a bet on a troubled industry.

"Sibanye is shaking things up in the sector, they are taking advantage where everybody is saying there is value but nobody is doing anything about it," said Richard Hart, an analyst at Arqaam Capital.

Sibanye bought Anglo American Platinum's Rustenburg mines in September.

Shares in Sibanye added 10 percent to 19,74 rand while Aquarius jumped 36 percent, the highest on record, to 2,32 rand.

The blue-chip JSE Top-40 index fell 0,15 percent to 46,624 points while the broader All-share index was flat at 52,070 points.

Mediclinic rose 1,9 percent to 119 rand after saying it was in merger talks with Abu Dhabi's Al-Noor.