(Updates with closing prices and fresh quotes)
JOHANNESBURG, March 23 South Africa's rand
maintained a data-fuelled rally on Thursday sparked in the
previous session by better-than-expected current account figures
and a softer inflation print.
At 1340 GMT, the rand was 0.48 percent firmer at
12.51 per dollar, having closed at 12.5700 overnight in New
York, in a run that has been broad-based.
"We're seeing strength against all its frontier market
currency peers, not just the dollar," said IG South Africa
senior market analyst Shaun Murison, who said if the rand
remains below 13 to the dollar it could make a move to 12.30.
On Wednesday, Q4 2016 current account data showed the
financial deficit was at its smallest in nearly six years while
February consumer inflation retreated.
The data opens room for a possible rate cut by the South
African Reserve Bank at its policy meeting next week but most
analysts do not see this until early next year as it remains
cautious about currency moves, a Reuters poll forecast indicated
Stocks ended flat in line with the opening of U.S markets,
which were little moved in early trade amid signs that President
Donald Trump is struggling to get enough votes to pass a
healthcare bill in Congress.
Decliners included South Africa's Life Healthcare,
which closed 2.2 percent lower after announcing the price of its
9 billion rand ($720 million) rights issue at a larger than
expected discount on Wednesday.
"This was the first time they disclosed the rights issue
price ... (at) a discount of around 30 percent which is larger
than the market expected," said 36One Asset Management analyst
On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index dipped
0.02 percent to 44,845.23 points while the All-Share index
crept 0.13 percent lower to 52,027.98 points.
In fixed income, government bonds were little changed with
the yield on 2026 benchmark up 1 basis point to 8.330
(Reporting by Olwethu Boso,; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Ed