* Rand seesaws but ends flat as risk-on fades
* Bourse inches up as Mediclinic closer to clinching Middle East deal (Adds latest prices, analyst quotes)
JOHANNESBURG, April 28 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was flat late on Friday, moving in a narrow range for most of the local session in low-volume trade ahead of a long weekend as investors closed positions and booked profits, while stocks ended higher lifted by hospital group Mediclinic.
At 1500 GMT the rand had edged 0.04 percent firmer to 13.3575 per dollar, barely moved from its overnight close of 13.3775 overnight in New York.
The rand had started the day on the frontfoot, driven firmer by some profit taking on the recent dollar rally and the European Central Bank’s decision to stick to its large-scale bond buying binge, reaching a session best of 13.2300.
The unit then backtracked, however, as global risk-on sentiment faded.
The unit was also barely affected by local data showing the country’s trade balance had jumped to a 11.4 billion rand surplus in March on the back of higher exports, led by a 34 percent increase in commodity sales.
The rand briefly dipped below the psychologically crucial 13.00 mark earlier in the week but failed to build on that momentum, slumping to a three-week trough instead as a firming dollar and political uncertainties at home weighed.
“Generally the drivers next week will be external, international developments, especially if we get any further insight on the tax proposals in the U.S.,” said Investec economist Kamila Kaplan.
On the bourse, stocks edged higher on the day with Mediclinic International in the spotlight as Abu Dhabi scrapped a 20 percent co-payment requirement for treatment at private facilities.
Shares in Mediclinic, which are substantially tied up in the Middle East takeover of Al Noor in 2015, jumped 13.3 percent to 141.02 rand, their biggest one-day gain in at least two years. City-state Abu Dhabi introduced the measure on its Thiqa insurance programme last July, just after Mediclinic had bought Abu Dhabi private hospital group Al Noor for about $2 billion. “Mediclinic had greater exposure to this reform given a greater focus on Thiqa patients, so it should see a greater benefit, but we await details as to the expected impact at its FY Results on 24 May,” brokerage house Jefferies said in a note.
Overall, the benchmark JSE Top 40 index rose 0.19 percent to 47,071 and the broader All-share index added 0.25 percent to 53,817.
In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 2.5 basis point to 8.705 percent. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Tiisetso Motsoeneng, editing by Pritha Sarkar)