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#RandReport: Rand flat, stocks dragged lower by Steinhoff

By 1600 GMT the rand had slipped 0.2 percent to 14.5305 per dollar.

FILE: South Africa's economy is expected to grow by only 0.6 percent in 2016 by the International Monetary Fund as a result of weaker exports and policy uncertainty. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The rand edged weaker on Thursday due to weak local mining data and a return of dollar strength, while furniture maker Steinhoff and resource firms led stocks lower.

By 1600 GMT the rand had slipped 0.2 percent to 14.5305 per dollar, giving up a brief rally that had lifted the unit a session high 14.4445.

Bonds firmed, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 cutting 2.5 basis points to 8.965 percent.

Mining production in fell below expectations, down 8.7 percent in February, official data showed, another sign Africa's most industrialised economy was barely growing.

"The continued struggles of the mining sector will add to the challenge of creating a meaningful acceleration in headline GDP growth," Africa analyst at Capital Economics John Ashbourne said.

South Africa's economy is expected to grow by only 0.6 percent in 2016 by the International Monetary Fund as a result of weaker exports and policy uncertainty.

A stronger dollar, buoyed by improved global sentiment toward safe-haven assets that has seen investors trim bearish positions on the greenback, added pressure on the rand in the session. The rand's emerging market peers also felt the heat.

In stocks, the benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.14 percent to 46,551 points while the broader All-Share index dropped 0.17 percent to 52,848 points.

Johannesburg-listed shares of Steinhoff fell 3 percent to R90.50 after it announced a billion euro convertible bond, which was seen diluting its shares.

After four consecutive sessions of gains, the mining index fell 0.32 percent on weaker metal prices. Gold eased on Thursday with uncertainty over the outlook for US monetary policy this year adding to volatility.

Harmony Gold fell 5.3 percent to 54 rand, AngloGold Ashanti slipped 2.7 percent to R220.44 and Sibanye Gold climbed down 3.5 percent to R56.60.

Trade was relatively slow, with 235 million shares changing hands compared to last year's daily average of 280 million shares.