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#RandReport: Rand recoups losses, commodities buoy shares

The rand weakened more than 1% to 15.3100 as investors fretted about the health of the domestic economy.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed against the dollar on Wednesday as the dollar weakened globally but the local currency remained vulnerable due to weak domestic economic growth.

Stocks also gained with mining shares among the biggest gainers as prices of commodities such as bullion cruised higher.

At 1553 GMT, the rand traded at 15.0235 per the dollar, 0.67 percent firmer from Tuesday's New York close, erasing earlier losses as the greenback eased on profit-taking.

Profit-taking hit the dollar after it reached a two-week high on Tuesday.

The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.62 percent at 93.703, easing back from Tuesday's two-week high of 94.150.

The rand had weakened more than 1 percent to 15.3100 as investors fretted about the health of the domestic economy.

Data this week showing a sharp rise in unemployment in the first quarter illustrated how South Africa's economy, expected by the Treasury to expand by just 0.9 percent this year, is not growing fast enough to create new jobs.

The currency was also looking for direction in the absence of market moving data, Treasury One dealer Andre Botha said.

"It's just trading at a very narrow band for the first time in three or four months. We will probably see direction next week or so when more data comes out," said Botha.

Statistics South Africa is expected to release March manufacturing and mining data on Thursday, while April consumer inflation data is due out next week.

Government bonds also firmed, with the yield due in 2026 down 3 basis points to 9.155 percent.

On the stock market, mining shares dominated the leaderboard on the blue-chip index, boosted by firmer commodity prices that saw the price of gold rebounding from two-week lows.

AngloGold Ashanti rallied 6.6 percent to 227.70 rand. Gold Fields surged 5.5 percent to 64.61 rand.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 index ended 0.3 percent higher at 45,839 and the broader All-share index added 0.5 percent to 52,130.

Trading volumes were low with just over 197 million shares changing hands, well below last year's daily average of 296 million shares.