JOHANNESBURG, Jan 3 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand tumbled to its weakest in three months on Thursday as emerging market currencies were hit by a wave of risk aversion as fears about global growth intensified.
* At 0650 GMT the rand was 0.6 percent weaker at 14.5550 per dollar, recovering slightly after sliding to 14.8975 in the overnight session, its weakest since October 9.
* The rand was on the backfoot following weak factory data from China on Wednesday and saw losses deepen in tandem with a majority of global currencies after Apple said sales in China and other emerging markets fell last quarter.
* The news helped trigger a 'flash crash' in currency markets, stoking nervousness about global growth already dampened by the ongoing trade wrangle between the United States and China.
* Traders said light volumes in a holiday-shortened week had exacerbated the currency slide with stop-losses triggered by the breach of key technical milestones and increased volatility.
* Bonds were steady in early trade with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper at 8.935 percent after climbing 4.5 basis points in the previous session.
* Stocks were set to open lower with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Top-40 futures index down 0.3 percent, mirroring the sour start in Asian equities.
Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Joe Brock