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#RandReport: Rand recovers, resources puncture stocks rally

Shares were dragged down by resource stocks despite advances by retailers.

Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand recovered from month lows on Thursday as investors pocketed profits and parked bets ahead of much-awaited non-farm payrolls data from the United States on Friday.

Shares were dragged down by resource stocks, despite advances by retailers, ending a four-day winning streak.

At 1615 the rand had gained 0.15 percent to 13.9330 per dollar having teetered near 14.00 after US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday said a December rate hike was a "live possibility".

The comments stoked expectations of a first rise in US interest rates in nearly a decade and lifted the dollar to a three-month high while the rand languished at a one month low.

The rand also firmed as the dollar rally paused after US jobless claims showed their largest increase in eight months.

"Traders are a little wary of the payroll numbers tomorrow, so there is a little bit of profit taking that's helped the rand off the worst levels. But its still weak in general terms," Bidvest Bank chief dealer Ion de Vleeschauwer said.

Investec analyst Annabel Bishop also expected the recovery to be short-lived, saying the rand would soon breach 14.00 before moving closer to 14.20 in the quarter, pressured by the looming rate hike in the world's biggest economy.

Emerging market currencies found some reprieve from China's report saying it expected imports in 2016 to steady.

Yields on government bonds rose, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 adding 1.5 basis points to 8.445 percent.

On the bourse, mining firm Anglo American was the worst performer among the blue chips, falling 8.69 percent to R114.88, more than its previous day's gains of 7 percent.

Platinum producer Lonmin tumbled 14.46 percent to R4.26 ahead of its $400 million cash call to shareholders next week.

"They said this week that if they didn't get the money they would close the mine down. It's not a good threat to make, the market doesn't want to hear that," Thebe Stockbroking trader Bruno van Eck said.

Fashion retailer Truworths International gained 8.81 percent to close at R105 after reporting better than expected sales, Van Eck said.

Other retailers benefited from the positive sentiment, with shares in Mr Price closing 3.68 percent firmer at R224.85.

The benchmark Top-40 index was down 1.1 percent at 48,553 points while the All-Share Index receded 0.98 percent to 54,073 points.

Trade was lively with 227 million shares changing hands, compared with last year's daily average of 183 million.