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South African rand firmer, stocks dragged down by profit-taking

(Adds latest prices, analyst comment)

JOHANNESBURG, April 4 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand firmed on Thursday, eking out gains late in the session as hopes of a trade deal between the United States and China bolstered risk appetite globally.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that trade talks between Washington and Beijing last week in the Chinese capital had made "good headway".

At 1700 GMT the rand was 0.2 percent firmer at 14.1150 per dollar from an overnight close of 14.1450 in New York.

The rand posted the gains deep into offshore trade, having languished near short term technical support around 14.20 for most of the local session in low volume trade.

The currency was volatile in the previous session after power firm Eskom said the utility needed an additional 250 billion rand ($17.73 billion) to ease its financial and operational crisis.

However, demand from overseas investors has helped the rand cling on to gains that lifted it to a 2-month high on Monday after Moody's delayed a credit review on the country.

In equity markets, stocks weakened on profit-taking after gains in the previous session, with bullion shares weighing on further gains.

The Johannesburg All-Share index fell 0.37 percent to 57,711 points while the Johannesburg Top-40 index dipped 0.37 percent to 51,449 points.

"We’ve outperformed global markets, now we’re pulling back due to profit taking,” said Vasili Girasis, a trader from BP Bernstein.

Among the decliners, bullion shares fell 0.89 percent, weighed down by a weaker spot gold price.

AngloGold Ashanti fell 1.48 percent to 183,96 rand and Gold Fields dropped 1.49 percent to 52.80 rand.

"Gold has been volatile today. The gold price was weaker, with the rand being strong," said Girasis.

Bonds also edged lower, with the yield on the benchmark government paper due in 2026 up 0.5 basis points to 8.535 percent. ($1 = 14.1015 rand) (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Onke Ngcuka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

2019-04-04 19:53:05

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